Derry City suffer first home defeat of the season at hands of Dundalk

Conor McDermott reacts when Ben Connolly points to the penalty spot in the second half.
Conor McDermott reacts when Ben Connolly points to the penalty spot in the second half.

DERRY CITY suffered a first home defeat of the season at the hands of champions Dundalk who continued their impressive record against the Candy Stripes.

The Foylesiders have won just once in the last 23 games against Dundalk and while they put in a brave effort the Lilywhites simply had that cutting edge in front of goal.

Sean Murray opened the scoring for the visitors with a well taken goal on 37 minutes.

And when Peter Cherrie fouled Pat Hoban inside the penalty area on 52 minutes, it proved a double blow for the Candy Stripes as the keeper was taken off with a hand injury and referee, Ben Connolly pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Pat Hoban to slot the spotkick past substitute keeper, Nathan Gartside who came on for his City debut.

Declan Devine made three changes to the team which drew at Bohemians last weekend with David Parkhouse, Barry McNamee and Gregg Sloggett restored to the starting XI as Gerardo Bruna, Aidy Delap and Eoghan Stokes dropped to the bench.

Dundalk meanwhile were boosted by the return of Michael Duffy from injury and the Derry native began on the left flank in place of Jordan Flores who was started on the bench. That was the sole change from the team which impressed with a 4-0 win over Waterford at Oriel Park in their last outing.

The large crowd stood for a minute's applause prior to kick-off in memory of Derry City legend, Brian Wright who passed away earlier today. Brian represented the Candy Stripes in the 1957 Irish Cup Final as a 16 year-old.

On the fifth minute the attendance observed another minute's applause, this time for the late Derry City skipper, Ryan McBride whose second anniversary occurs next Tuesday, March 19th. The last time Derry defeated Dundalk was on March 13th 2017 when McBride netted a header to make it 3-1 at Maginn Park.

There was an early scare for the home side when Murray drifted a free-kick into the six yard box where Peter Cherrie came to collect but the keeper misjudged the flight of the ball and Ciaron Harkin had to be alert to clear the danger under pressure from Brian Gartland who had gone up for the set-piece,

Derry grew into the contest and from a free-kick of their own on 10 minutes they could so easily have taken the lead. McNamee crossed deep to the far post where Harkin and Ogedi-Uzokwe arrived with purpose but the latter was unable to get a telling touch and it went over the bar..

Cherrie produced a stunning save to deny Pat Hoban's close range free header from Dane Massey's searching cross from the left on 25 minutes as the City keeper reacted quickly to palm away the danger with his out-stretched hand.

McNamee tried his luck from a free-kick on the edge of the Dundalk penalty area on 32 minutes but his superb curling effort with his left foot was tipped over the bar by a terrific save from Gary Rodgers.

The Lilywhites broke the deadlock on 37 minutes when Duffy was gifted a second chance to cross from a dangerous position on the left side of the box. The ex-Candy Stripes winger chipped into the Derry penalty area and Hoban, with his back to goal, nodded the ball into the path of Murray who made no mistake with his first time effort from eight yards.

It was a cruel blow for the Foylesiders and they were unfortunate not to equalise on 44 minutes from a corner which was flicked on at the near post but Gilchrist somehow managed to send the ball over the crossbar from three yards which proved the last chance of the half.

Dundalk started with purpose in the second half and Murray drilled a low shot narrowly wide of the target. That proved to be the last action of the game for the Dundalk goalscorer as he picked up a knock and was replaced by Dean Jarvis.

When Sean Gannon floated a dangerous ball towards Hoban the Dundalk striker headed towards goal but took a blow to the head from the onrushing Cherrie who injured his hand in the process. It was a double blow for City as referee, Ben Connolly pointed to the penalty spot and Cherrie was forced off injured and replaced by debutante, former Watford keeper, Nathan Gartside.

Up stepped Hoban to take the spotkick and he slotted it expertly into the corner of the net, sending Gartside the wrong way to double Dundalk's advantage eight minutes into the second half.

From a Derry corner Dundalk broke at pace through Duffy who ran from deep, skipped past the challenge of Coll and played a neat pass into the path of the supporting Jarvis who was in acres of space 12 yards from goal but he blasted high over the bar unchallenged.

Rogers needed to be alert just short of the hour mark when Ogedi-Uzokwe's dipping free-kick from 25 yards looked destined for the top corner but the Dundalk keeper got his fingertips to it and turned it behind.

The veteran keeper did superbly to get across his goalmouth on 68 minutes to parry McNamee's free-kick past the post.

Duffy went on a weaving run on the left side and his right footed effort went just wide as Dundalk looked dangerous on the counter with Derry boss, Devine opting to go with three at the back as he replaced McDermott with Eoghan Stokes.

And Stokes dragged a shot harmlessly wide from the edge of the area as the fourth official signalled there would be seven minutes of additional time.

It wasn't enough time for City to get back into the game as Dundalk closed the game out to move into second spot.

Derry City: P. Cherrie (N. Gartside 52); C. McDermott (E. Stokes 78), E. Toal, D. Cole, A. Gilchrist; J. Ogedi-Uzokwe, G. Sloggett, C. Harkin, C. Coll (A. Delap 56); B. McNamee; D. Parkhouse; Subs Not Used - G. Bruna, E. Tweed, J. Kerr, G. Seraf.

Dundalk: G. Rodgers; S. Gannon, B. Gartland, D. Cleary, D. Massey, D. Kelly (C. Dummigan,86), S. Hoare, S. Murray (D. Jarvis 51), M. Duffy (J. Flores 92); J. McGrath; P. Hoban; Subs Not Used - A. McCarey, G. Kelly, S. Folan, D. Hand.

Referee - Ben Connolly (Dublin)