Derry City suffer narrow loss at champions Dundalk
Dundalk 1, Derry City 0
Derry City will feel, not for the first time this season against Dundalk, that they should have taken something from a game.
Defensively City were solid but one lapse in concentration in the second half from Jamie McDonagh - who super for large parts of the game - was enough for Daniel Kelly to ghost in behind the former N Ireland U21 international and score the all important winner for the champions.
The Lilywhitesn showed a nice touch in the programme as they named former Derry captain Ryan McBride and the club's all time leading goalscorer Mark Farren, in the City team list.
The Brandywell men made two changes to their side which hammered Cork City last week, with McDonagh and Darren McCauley coming in replacing Grant Gillespie and Jack Malone.
As for the treble chasers they made five changes from the side which booked their spot in next month’s FAI Cup Final against Shamrock Rovers.
In came Cameron Dummigan, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Robbie Benson and Sean Murray, with Sean Hoare, Dane Massey and Jamie McGrath dropping to the bench and Patrick McEleney and Daniel Cleary missing out completely, through injury and suspension respectively.
Derry showed their class prior to kick-off as they formed a guard of honour as the champions entered the Oriel Park pitch.
The visitors should have broken the deadlock on 13 minutes as Barry McNamee won possession off Gartland, but the Derry skipper with only Dundalk keeper Gary Rogers to beat, dragged his 20 yard shot well off target.
Derry suffered an injury set-back on 31 minutes with Greg Sloggett having to be replaced by Gillespie, after the ex-UCD man picked up what looked like a dead-leg injury, after clashing with Chris Shields.
Derry went close again, just before the break as McCauley's flick-on found David Parkhouse, but his 20 yard strike was saved at the second attempt by Rogers.
The home side finally woke up on 42 minutes as Sean Gannon's right wing cross found Pat Hoban, but the striker's diving header from close range was superbly kept out by Derry keeper Peter Cherrie.
Dundalk went close to taking the lead early in the second half but Benson's long range strike, whistled just past Cherrie's left hand post.
Moments later Duffy's left wing cross found Hoban, but the striker's header failed to trouble Cherrie and flashed well over the bar.
The Lilywhites scored what turned out to be the winner on 64 minutes as Gannon picked up substitute Lido Lotefa’s clever pass before seeing his right wing cross finding Daniel Kelly at the back post and he gleefully side footed home from close range, after ghosting in behind McDonagh.
Soon after the visitor's had strong claims for a penalty after Gartland looked to have brought down Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe inside the box, but referee Neil Doyle waved away the protests.
With their tails up Derry, pushed forward for an equaliser and the woodwork came to Dundalk's rescue on 75 minutes as McNamee's cut-back fell to Gillespie inside the box, but the Scottish midfielder's drive from 10 yards, which had Rogers beaten, came back off the post.
Dundalk: Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Dummigan; Shields, Murray (G Kelly 75), Benson; D Kelly (Hanratty 87), Hoban, Duffy (Lotefa 60).
Derry City: Cherrie, McDonagh, Toal, Gilchrist, Coll; McNamee (McCrudden 80), Sloggett (Gillespie 31), Harkin; McCauley (Davis 57), Parkhouse, Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).