Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe nets winner against Saints as Derry City close in on third
Derry City 1 St Pat's 0
DERRY CITY moved to within a point of third placed Sligo Rovers as Junior Ogedi Uzokwe's second half header all but ended St Patrick's Athletic's title hopes at Brandywell.
The Saints were dominant in the first half of a thrilling encounter but the in-form Ogedi-Uzokwe netted his fourth goal in five games on 63 minutes to give Derry a fighting chance of clinching an automatic European spot with six games to go.
Substitute Ronan Coughlan saw red moments after coming off the bench after striking Ciaran Coll with an elbow and Derry left-back Danny Lafferty was shown a second yellow by referee Rob Harvey for his part in the melee which followed.
Nathan Gartside then produced a stunning double save in the final minutes of the match to ensure a precious victory for the Foylesiders.
Ruaidhri Higgins made three changes from the team which lost to Shamrock Rovers two weeks ago.
Joe Thomson returned to the starting line-up after serving his three match ban but the suspended James Akintunde missed out.
Coll and Evan McLaughlin both came back into the team while Jack Malone and Bastien Hery dropped to the bench.
Defender Lee Desmond made his first start in eight weeks following his horrific head injury sustained against Waterford.
And Billy King was the second change for the Saints with the injured Paddy Barrett missing out and Coughlan starting on the bench.
St Pat's early dominance almost paid dividends as Matty Smith got in front of Cameron McJannet to meet Sam Bone's left footed cross and he guided the ball past Gartside but the post saved Derry on six minutes.
Saints skipper Chris Forrester timed his run to perfection and got in behind the Derry defence six minutes later but was denied by a neat save from Gartside.
The rebound fell to Smith but his follow-up shot was blocked well by McJannet.
Derry's first effort on target arrived on 18 minutes when Ronan Boyce chipped a searching ball in towards McGonigle who forced a smart save from Saints keeper Jaros with a close range acrobatic effort.
Jaros was called into action once more when Ogedi-Uzokwe found the run of McLaughlin with a clever back heel but the midfielder was forced wide by the keeper who stood tall to make the save from a tight angle.
The dangerous Forrester sent Smith clean through on goal following a quick counter but Gartside did well to save with his legs as Derry survived another gilt-edged chance with seven minutes of the half to go.
The visitors came so close to breaking the deadlock twice inside the two additional minutes at the end of the first half following a succession of corners.
Firstly Alfie Lewis' effort on the half volley at the back post was cleared off the line by Ciaran Coll.
Forrester evaded the challenge of Ogedi-Uzokwe with a lovely dummy on the edge of the penalty area before striking the crossbar with a curling effort and Gartside needed to tip the rebound behind for another corner.
Derry managed to survive that late spell of pressure and were fortunate to go in at the break on level terms.
The Dubliners began the second half on the front foot and Darragh Burns forced Gartside to parry clear his curling strike from the right side of the Derry penalty area.
Derry stunned the Saints on 63 minutes following a swift counter attack started by substitute Jack Malone who won the ball just inside his own half.
The midfielder sent McGonigle scampering clear on the right wing and his searching inswinging cross was met by the head of Ogedi-Uzokwe who got in front of Sam Bone and guided the ball past Jaros from close range.
Substitute Coughlan was on the pitch for less than 60 seconds before striking Coll with an elbow. After much deliberation match referee Mr Harvey showed the striker a straight red.
And Derry defender Lafferty followed him down the tunnel shortly afterwards for his part in the melee which ensued as Coll received treatment on the pitch.
With both teams down to 10 men, Gartside came to his side's rescue with a stunning double save to deny Bone and then Smith's follow-up from close range.
Six minutes of additional time was signalled as the Saints pressed for an equaliser but it wasn't to come as Derry clinched a vital win in the race for Europe.
Derry City: Gartside; Toal, McJannet, Coll; Boyce, Harkin, Thomson, Lafferty; McLaughlin (Malone 58); Ogedi-Uzokwe, McGonigle (Fitzgerald 90); Subs Not Used - Lemoignan, McChrystal, Storey, Cole, Hery, Harris, Ferry.
St Pat's: Jaros; Bone (Nwoko 90), Desmond, Abankwah (Coughlan 82), Griffin (Bermingham 73); Burns, Lennon (Benson 73), Lewis, Smith; Forrester; King (McClelland 73); Subs Not Used - Murphy, Melvin-Lambert, Hikman, Corbally.
Referee - Rob Harvey (Dublin).