Derry City got back to winning ways when they beat Dundalk FC 2-0 in Oriel Park yesterday afternoon.
Goals in either half from Eamon Zayed and Daniel Lafferty ensured Stephen Kenny’s men took all three points with them back to the Brandywell.
Yesterday’s win means that Derry are still well in contention for the league championship title and with the Candystripes due to travel south to take on Shamrock Rovers on Thursday the win over Ian Foster’s Dundalk will have filled them with confidence.
The Candystripes started the game brightly when Stephen McLaughlin sprinted free on the left. He found space but his attempt to find the unmarked Eamon Zayed at the back post was unsuccessful.
McLaughlin played the ball behind the towering centre-forward but despite the poor pass Zayed slotted the ball into the path of Gareth McGlynn who blasted straight at a Dundalk defender.
Derry gave away a free-kick outside their 18 yard box in the 12th minute but Mark Quigley fired his effort over the crossbar.
Derry had a wonderful chance to take the lead in the 12th minute when Zayed found himself in space inside the Dundalk area. Zayed ducked and dived his way through the Dundalk defence to cross towards the edge of the six yard box.
Derry captain Kevin Deery attempted to poke the ball past Paul Murphy but he arrived late and the danger was cleared.
Derry took the lead seconds later when the cleared ball landed at the feet of Daniel Lafferty on the left. Lafferty’s cross was perfectly paced and found Zayed at the back post who headed past Murphy in the 13th minute.
Derry must have thought they had doubled their lead in the 22nd minute when a Kevin Deery corner was flicked on towards goal by Zayed.
Zayed caught the Lilywhites completely off guard but Murphy reacted swiftly to tip the ball on to the post. Zayed and the rest of the Derry City team claimed that the ball had crossed the line but referee Neil Doyle and his linesman didn’t agree.
Dundalk’s first chance of the afternoon fell to Keith Ward in the 26th minute. Ward burst into the Derry half and even had time to pick his spot but somehow managed to smash the ball straight at Gerard Doherty.
Stephen McLaughlin went very close to scoring what would have been a remarkable goal in the 28th minute. Daniel Lafferty sent in a high sweeping ball towards the Dundalk six yard box. McLaughlin leapt and acrobatically sent the ball towards goal but his effort went over the bar.
A loose ball fell to Eamon Zayed in the 34th minute after an attempted clearance by Dundalk deflected off one of their own players and Zayed timed his volley to absolute perfection. Despite being goalward bound, Zayed’s effort was charged down by the body of Dundalk defender Cian Byrne inside the area.
Dundalk attempted to hit Derry on the counter attack and as the ball fell to Jason Byrne he found team mate Mark Quigley on the right. Quigley sprinted clear of the Derry defence and attempted to lob the ball over the head of Doherty but the Creggan shot stopper reacted brilliantly and gathered the ball with ease.
Stephen McLaughlin went close to finding his team’s second in the 37th minute when poor defending from Dundalk allowed him to fire in a shot on goal at the back post. Whilst McLaughlin’s effort abounded in power it lacked direction and travelled over the crossbar.
Keith Ward attempted to thread the ball through to Jason Byrne in the 40th minute but despite the big Dubliner having a head start of three yards Stewart Greacen was able to catch up and clear the ball out.
Ruaidhri Higgins forced Paul Murphy into making a tremendous save in the 42nd minute when he attempted to find a team mate inside the Dundalk area. Higgins’ free kick was aimed at the head of centre-back Greacen but the Scot was unable to connect but Murphy had to react as it was on its way into the back of the net.
Paul Murphy looked like he handled the ball outside the area in the 48th minute. Gareth McGlynn was sent in on goal by Ruaidhri Higgins but Murphy rushed outside his area to clear the ball. In the melee that ensued Murphy clearly touched the ball with his hand but Neil Doyle signalled for play to continue.
Dundalk’s Chris Reilly had a fantastic chance to level the score in the 52nd minute when the ball fell to him inside the Derry area; luckily for the Candystripes Reilly’s shot was charged down by McGlynn, the Donegal man almost certainly preventing what would have been an equaliser.
Dundalk certainly improved in the second half and they were almost rewarded with an equaliser in the 57th minute.
Keith Ward floated a free-kick from the left towards the back post but Shane McEleney rose high above everyone else to take some of the pace off the ball. The ball continued towards goal and Jason Byrne failed to connect at the back post. It was perhaps Dundalk’s best chance of the afternoon but because of McEleney’s intervention Byrne was not able to score.
Eamon Zayed should have done better in the 59th minute when a Daniel Lafferty pass found him unmarked inside the Dundalk area. Zayed failed to compose himself and headed the ball over the crossbar.
Dundalk’s Stephen McDonnell was left wondering what could have been in the 61st minute when his shot cum cross surprised Gerard Doherty. In what was a rare lapse of concentration Doherty saw McDonnell’s pass into the box late but managed to claw the ball off the line.
Stephen McLaughlin almost scored a spectacular effort in the 76th minute when he connected with a volley inside the Dundalk area on the left. McLaughlin’s shot look destined for the back of the net but it came off the post.
Daniel Lafferty pulled off yet another outstanding cross in the 84th minute but despite being unmarked inside the area teammate Stephen McLaughlin headed the ball wide.
Derry secured a priceless two-goal lead in the 86th minute when a Stephen McLaughlin corner was converted at the back post by Lafferty. It was comical defending by Dundalk as Lafferty was able to rise totally unchallenged to head past Murphy.
Next up for Derry City is Shamrock Rovers at the Tallaght Stadium on Thursday (kick-off: 7.00pm)
DUNDALK FC: Paul Murphy; Simon Madden, Cian Byrne, Jason Breen, Nathan Byrne; Chris Reilly (Bob McKenna 75 mins), Keith Ward, Stephen McDonnell, Ross Gaynor (Conor McDonald 87 mins); Mark Quigley, Jason Byrne.
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie; Philip Duffy; Ben McLaughlin.
DERRY CITY: Gerard Doherty; Barry Molloy, D. Lafferty, S. Greacen, S. McEleney; S. McLaughlin, G. McGlynn, K. Deery, R. Higgins; P. McEleney, E. Zayed.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry; Emmett Friars; Ruairi Harkin; David McDaid; Thomas McGonigle; Mark Farren; Michael McCrudden.
REFEREE: Mr. Neil Doyle (Dublin)