Trademark Will Patching strike sends Derry City six points clear after NW derby win

Finn Harps 1 Derry City 2

By Simon Collins
Saturday, 9th April 2022, 7:40 pm
Cameron McJannet celebrates his first half header against Finn Harps in Ballybofey. Photograph by Kevin Moore.
Cameron McJannet celebrates his first half header against Finn Harps in Ballybofey. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

A TRADEMARK Will Patching free-kick sealed a sixth successive victory for Derry City against Finn Harps at Ballybofey to send the Candy Stripes six points clear at the table.

Ruaidhri Higgins troops remain undefeated after the first series of matches were completed and the win completed a magnificent week for the Foylesiders.

Indeed it was a third win on the road in the space of eight days and the 1,500 travelling supporters will have enjoyed this derby victory which keeps City's incredible run going.

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Cameron McJannet gave Derry a thoroughly deserved lead on 22 minutes with a bullet header from Brandon Kavanaghs corner.

And while Harps grew into the game in the second half, Patching delivered from a dead ball once again as he curled his strike from the edge of the box into the top corner with two minutes remaining.

The drama wasn't over, however, as McJannet brought down Harps sub, Filip Mihajevic inside the box and the Croatian striker stepped up to half the deficit from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

It was too little, too late for Harps to stage a comeback as City celebrated victory to mark their 600th away fixture in the League of Ireland.

Mark Anthony McGinley turns this effort away from goal during the second half as Jamie McGonigle gets ready to pounce. Photo by Kevin Moore.

Facing into a third game in eight days, Higgins made just one change with Danny Lafferty replacing Patrick McEleney who dropped to the bench.

Goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley was one of three changes made by his opposite number Ollie Horgan after returning from suspension.

It was a lively opening to the match and Derry threatened early on as Brandon Kavanagh fizzed in a cross from the left, despite screams from the Harps boss instructing the Harps defence to close it down, but the ball took a slight deflection which took it just beyond Boyce at the back post.

Moments later Dummigan lost possession deep inside the Harps half and Elie Nzeyi set Barry McNamee clean through on goal but the Derry midfielder managed to get back and make amends when blocking the Ramelton man's shot from just inside the box.

Ethan Boyle did well to get down the right flank and his cross was met by the head of Mahdy but his cushioned effort was saved easily by Brian Maher.

Lafferty came closest to breaking the deadlock on 17 minutes as Shane McEleney kept the ball alive when Patching's free-kick was cleared. The former Harps defender crossed into the 18 yards box and Lafferty rose highest but headed narrowly over.

It was a big chance for the visitors. And Lafferty sent another effort over the Harps crossbar on 22 minutes as his left footed strike took a slight deflection off Conor Tourish's outstretched leg.

From Kavanagh's inswinging corner kick, McJannet rose highest and powered home his first goal of the season before running towards the large City support to celebrate that breakthrough strike on 22 minutes.

At the other end Rainey squared the ball towards Mahdy who blasted his 10 yards effort high over the bar.

Patching then curled an effort just wide of the far post as Derry increased the pressure.

Derry threatened from another Kavanagh corner kick which found Lafferty's run at the back post four minutes before the interval but the Carnhill man flung his trailing leg at the ball and it went the wrong side of the post.

McGonigle fired over the bar two minutes later after a lovely move involving Smith and Dummigan who found the striker 14 yards from the Harps goal in space.

Higgins was far from happy when the whistle blew for half-time following one minute stoppage time as his side had just won a corner kick where they looked so threatening during the opening 45 minutes.

Nevertheless, the City boss will have been content to go in at the break with the lead they thoroughly deserved.

Derry keeper Maher came to collect a cross at the start of the second half and was brought crashing heavily to the ground holding his left arm after a robust challenge from Tourish.

After a lengthy stoppage play continued with Maher taking the free-kick as Tourish went into the referee's book.

From a Kavanagh free-kickon 51 minutes Shane McEleney made a diagonal run towards the near post and his glancing header went across the face of goal and wide.

Dummigan did superbly to win possession in the middle of the park before laying into the path of Boyce on the right wing. The Donegal man slipped it into the path of Smith inside the box and his strike from a tight angle was turned behind by McGinley at the second attempt.

Harps spurned a decent chance to level the game when Derry failed to clear from Ethan Boyle's long throw-in and when it fell to Ryan Rainey, his snap shot went wide of the post on 79 minutes.

McNamee clipped in a cross towards a packed Derry penalty area and David Webster's backward header clipped off the top of the crossbar as the Donegal men began to grow in confidence.

However, Derry doubled their lead with two minutes to go as Patching curled a terrific free-kick from the edge of the box into the top corner for his fifth goal of the season.

Substitute Mihalijevic went down inside the box from a challenge by McJannet and the Croatian striker stepped up to fire the resultant spotkick down the middle of the goal to give Harps a lifeline in stoppage time.

Finn Harps: M. Anthony McGinley; E. Boyle, D. Webster, C.Tourish; B. McNamee, E. Nzeyi, B. Hery (F. Mihalijevic 57), R. Rainey, E. McWoods (M Timlin 80), Y.Mahdy (L. Rudden 67); Subs Not Used - C. Mulreany, R.Donelan, L. Redden, J. Carrillo, D. Woods, E. Aljan, N. Logue.

Derry City: B. Maher; S.McEleney, E. Toal, McJannet; R. Boyce, B. Kavanagh (J. Thomson 76), W. Patching, D. Lafferty (C. Coll 89); M. Smith (E. McLaughlin 89), J. McGonigle (J. Akintunde 76); Subs Bot Used - N. Gartside, P. McEleney, G. Storey, J. Malone, D. McCallion.

Referee - John McLoughlin.