DECLAN ‘Fabio’ O’Brien broke Derry City’s hearts at the Brandywell last night and the “Candy Stripes” really cannot complain having crashed out of the EA Sports Cup last night.
But the veteran striker, who always seems to shine when facing the ‘Candy Stripes,’ was gifted two goals to put Drogheda another step closer to retaining the EA Sports Cup.
David McDaid managed to get the home lot back on level terms after O’Brien’s opener but second half goals from David Cassidy and a second from O’Brien ensured Drogheda progressed to next month’s showpiece.
Having failed to get to grips with this fixture during the opening 20 minutes, Derry could so easily have entered the break on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline.
In fact O’Brien broke the deadlock in the 12th minute following a comedy of errors in the home defence.
Keeper Gerard Doherty struggled when attempt to claim possession and while Drogheda’s Jason Marks crashed a shot off the crossbar, the defence again failed to clear and poacher supreme, O’Brien, stepped in to hammer the ball high into the net.
And Derry continued to be hesitant in defence with O’Brien going close again with two efforts within the space of three minutes.
However, the home lot eventually got to grips with this affair when restoring equality in the 37th minute following a patient build-up.
Thomas Crawley, who returned to action following a lengthy injury lay-off, provided the perfect cross into the danger area and Davy McDaid popped up at the back post to guide the ball home from close range.
And Derry went so close to moving into the driving seat on the stroke of half-time when exciting teenager, Michael Duffy, sent a low shot agonisingly wide following a quick Simon Madden free.
Rory Patterson squandered a glorious opportunity during the early stages of the second half when presented with a ‘free’ header from point blank range but he directed McDaid’s cross into the side netting.
But while Derry began to gradually grow in momentum, Drogheda moved into the driving seat when O’Brien plundered a second strike in the 65th minute.Substitute, Ryan Brennan, split the Derry defence with an incisive pass and the alert veteran striker raced through into a one-on-one situation with Doherty to easily find the net after the keeper had gone down early.And in the 76th minute Drogheda ended this match as a contest when Stewart Greacen raced back to regain possession and chased by Cassidy, the big Scot lost his footing with the visiting midfielder slotting home to set up a meeting with either Sligo or Shamrock Rovers on September 21st next.
Derry City – Doherty; Madden, S. McEleney, Greacen, Crawley (McNamee, 65); Kavanagh (Griffin, 70), Molloy, Houston, Duffy; McDaid; Patterson (P. McEleney, 70).Drogheda Utd. – Schlingermann; Daly, McNally, Prendergast, Grimes; Brady, Byrne, Cassidy (Hynes, 84), O’Connor (G. Brennan, 59), Marks (R. Brennan, 59); O’Brien.
Referee – P. Tuite (Dublin).