Shamrock Rovers end Derry City's seven match unbeaten run
Shamrock Rovers 2 Derry City 1
SHAMROCK Rovers ended Derry City's seven game unbeaten run as Danny Mandroiu's ninth goal of the season in first half stoppage time proved the winner in Tallaght.
Ex-Rovers defender Danny Lafferty gave Derry the perfect start with a brilliantly taken header after just six minutes.
Lee Grace got the Hoops back in the game with a free header on 19 minutes before Mandoiu completed the comeback with a curling strike into the far corner.
Lafferty really should've added a second for Derry at the start of the second half but somehow headed wide from close range.
That was as good as Derry could muster up in front of goal in a second half where Rovers dominated as the Dubliners took a step closer to retaining their title.
Ruaidhri Higgins made just one change from the team which won comfortably at home to Longford last weekend with Jack Malone replacing Will Fitzgerald on the right wing.
Joe Thomson was serving the final match of his three game ban and the game came too soon for Marc Walsh who is recovering from a long term hamstring injury.
A sell out crowd of 4,000 supporters were in attendance as Rovers attempted to close in on consecutive league titles and a fourth league win in a row.
Disappointingly for Derry, none of those 4,000 tickets were allocated to visiting fans despite a significant demand as two of the league's form teams clashed in south Dublin.
Higgins was hoping to put the skids on Rovers' title charge and stretch their own unbeaten league run to eight games.
Rovers striker Rory Gaffney did well to turn his man 10 yards from goal four minutes into the match but the Derry defence did well to crowd him out and his shot was blocked.
The rebound fell to Gary O'Neil 25 yards from the Derry goal but his ambitious strike sailed harmlessly over.
At the other end Derry won a free-kick in a promising position on the left side of the Rovers penalty area.
Maloe floated a dangerous cross towards the back post where ex-Rovers wingback Lafferty rose to power home a close range header and give the visitors a sixth minute lead.
Richie Towell tried his luck from distance and when Gartside parried it away it fell to the feet of Dylan Watts who steered his first time effort wide of the post.
It was a real let-off for Derry and Rovers skipper Ronan Finn's deflected strike went narrowly wide moments later with Gartside scrambling across his goalmouth.
Rovers were enjoying a promising spell of pressure and from another corner Barry Cotter's glancing header went wide of the target.
Derry forced a corner of their own at the other end and when the ball eventually broke to Boyce at the edge of the area, Alan Mannus gathered at the second attempt with Ogedi-Uzokwe ready to pounce.
Rovers were back on level terms on 19 minutes when Finn crossed into the six yard box from the right and Grace rose unopposed to head home his first goal of the season.
Lafferty produced a brilliant sliding challenge to intercept the ball on the edge of his own area after a lovely move involving Watts and Towell and send it behind on 41 minutes.
From the corner Cotter sent a powerful header to the wrong side of the far post.
And in first half stoppage time Gaffney back-heeled the ball perfectly to find the run of Mandroiu who peeled off his man before slotting into the net off the inside of the far post to give Rovers the lead at the break.
Lafferty had an opportunity for the equaliser with a free header at the back post seven minutes into the second half but somehow directed it wide from eight yards.
Derry were under sustained pressure and when Watts crossed into the visiting box Gaffney's header was parried away by Gartside. Rovers kept the ball alive and when it eventually came to Finn on the edge of the box, City skipper Eoin Toal managed to get a crucial deflection to direct it over the bar
From the resultant corner Roberto Lopes rose highest inside a crowded box but his towering header went just over the target.
Substitute Aidomo Emakhu played a lovely disguised pass into the feet of Aaron Greene but just as the striker was about to pull the trigger, Ciaron Harkin did brilliantly to take it off his toes in the 90th minute.
Rovers comfortably saw the game out and they now need just 12 points to clinch the title. As for Derry who remain in fourth, Higgins will hope his charges bounce back quickly next week at Waterford.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Gannon, Lopes, Grace; Finn, Watts (Greene 71) Towell, O'Neill , Cotter (Farrugia 79); Mandroiu (McCann 79), Gaffney (Emakhu 84); Subs Not Used - Pohls, Hoare, Kavanagh, Murphy, Noonan.
Derry City: Gartside; Boyce, McJannet, Toal, Lafferty; Malone (Fitzgerald 76), Harkin, Hery (McLaughlin 66); Ogedi-Uzokwe, Akitunde, McGonigle; Subs Not Used - Lemoignan, Coll, McChrystal, Storey, Cole, Ferry.
Referee - Paul McLaughlin