Super subs strike late to fire Derry City into the FAI Cup quarter-finals
DERRY CITY super subs, Ciaron Harkin and Stephen Mallon struck late at United Park to guide the Candy Stripes into the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup.
It wasn't pretty but with extra-time looming Derry ground out the win as Harkin found the back of the net from Colm Horgan's cross in the 90th minute.
And three minutes later fellow sub, Mallon netted clinically from 16 yards to break the hearts of a battling Drogheda United.
Declan Devine handed a debut to former Stoke U23 defender, Cameron McJannett who replaced Colm Horgan who dropped to the bench - the only change in personnel from that defeat in Vilnius midweek.
The City boss had to plan without the injured Walter Figueira and Jack Malone once again as the pair struggled to recover in time from their respective hamstring strains.
The game also came too soon for defender, Ally Gilchrist (foot) and midfielder, Conor Clifford (broken nose).
There were no signs of a European hangover as Derry started sharply in the opening five minutes but Drogheda created the game's first chance after Conor McCormack was beaten to the ball by Conor Kane.
The winger found Brandon Bermingham on the left wing and he cut inside before dragging his shot wide of the target.
Drogheda won a free-kick on the right side and when Jake Hyland whipped it in Cherrie punched clear in a crowded penalty area.
The Co. Louth men had a glorious chance to break the deadlock on 12 minutes following sloppy play by the visitors.
The pacy Conor Kane anticipated the pass from Cole, beat Meite to it and raced towards the Derry penalty area . He cut in between both Cole and Eoin Toal before firing high over the crossbar on 12 minutes.
Drogheda were well on top and Mark Doyle caused problems for the City defence with a promising run into the penalty area. He was forced wide before cutting it back to James Brown whose first time shot deflected off the back of Coll and went behind for a corner.
From the corner Cherrie flapped at the cross and Hugh Douglas went down under the challenge of Toal but referee Derek Tomney waved play on despite the protests from the Drogheda bench.
Debutante, McJannett had a great chance to get Derry off the mark on 38 minutes as he met Hammill's dangerous inswinging corner but headed over the bar at the back post.
Hammill tried his luck from distance during the first half injury time but Ross Treacy saved comfortably.
McCormack did well to win the ball in midfield at the start of the second half before finding Hammill. The Liverpudlian found Ibrahim Meite in space and as McCormack made the run on the outside, the big striker curled an effort just wide of the far post.
Former Bray defender, Hugh Douglas came so close to finding the bottom corner of the Derry net with a downward header from Hyland's corner on 55 minutes but it bounced the wrong side of the post.
Joe Thomson, who netted his first goal for the club in Europe on Tuesday night, flashed a shot wide of the mark shortly afterwards.
Devine made a double substitution just short of the hour mark as Stephen Mallon and Ciaron Harkin replaced Dunwoody and James Akintunde.
The subs had the desired effect as Derry began to boss possession. And from a Hammill corner from the left, Drogs keeper missed the cross and Douglas managed to put it behind under pressure from Toal.
Drogheda hit on the counter and Doyle ran at McCormack who was furthest back for Derry. The ball deflected off the City captain and fortuitously into the path of Berminglan who shaved the post with his curling strike from the edge of the box.
Thomson found Hammill and the former Barsley man dinked it over the head of the keeper from 18 yards but it went narrowly over the crossbar on 64 minutes.
Treacy had to dive to his right to push Meite's effort on the half volley behind for a corner.
Devine was forced into a change on 73 minutes when Thomson picked up an injury and Horgan came on to slot into right back position as Darren Cole moved into central midfield.
Derry finally got the breakthrough in the final minute as Cole found the overlapping Horgan on the right and the Galweigan crossed low to the near post where Harkin was on hand to fire the ball into the roof of the net.
Harkin's fellow sub, Mallon then secured Derry's place in the last eight of the competition with a clinical strike from 16 yards.
Drogheda Utd: R. Treacy; J. Brown, C. Kane, J. Tuite (C. Lyons 65), D. Pendergast, H. Douglas, R. Farrell, J. Hyland, M. Doyle, B. Bermingham (S. Meaney 84), M. Hughes; Subs Not Used - D. Odumosu, A. Wixted, J. Adeyemo, J. Clarke, R. O'Shea.
Derry City: P. Cherrie: D. Cole, E. Toal, C. Coll, C. McJannet; A. Hammill, J. Thomson (C. Horgan 73), C. McCormack, J. Dunwoody (C. Harkin 57); J. Akintunde (S. Mallon 57), I. Meite; Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, R. Boyce, M. McChrystal, E. McLaughlin.
Derek Tomney (Dublin)