Will Patching's stunning brace earns Derry City precious win in Drogheda
Drogheda United 1 Derry City 2
RUAIDHRI Higgins must use his powers of persuasion to convince his former club Dundalk to extend star man Will Patching's loan spell beyond the July transfer window after his stunning double against Drogheda United.
The former Man City Academy playmaker took his season's tally to four goals as his brace of spectacular free-kicks in either half earned Derry another precious win on the road
Patching caught David Odumosu off guard with a quick witted strike in the first half from 30 yards before Mark Doyle fired Drogheda level from the penalty spot on 62 minutes after Cameron McJannet handled inside the box.
However, man of the match, Patching stepped up to find the winner with a beautifully struck free-kick on 75 minutes which crashed off the underside of the bar before nestling in the net.
From the 14 goals scored by the Candy Stripes this season it was the 10th from a set-piece as Higgins men clinched a fourth away win from eight matches under the new City boss.
Referee Adriano Reale then handed substitutes Darren Cole and Jordan Adeyemo theior marching orders in two separate incidents in the closing moments of the game for second bookable offences.
It mattered little in the end as Derry held on for a first win at the venue since a 3-2 victory back in 2013 as the Foylesiders go into the break on 17 points.
The free-scoring Boynesiders went into the match as the form team in the league seeking a fifth straight victory and sat eight points ahead of their visitors.
Derry began with intent and when Patching cut inside on his left foot the Englishman's low strike was spilled by Odumoso but when Parkhouse reacted quickest the striker's first time effort from a tight angle hit the side netting.
At the other end Darragh Markey chested down the ball just inside the Derry penalty area but his shot was deflected off Ciaran Coll and behind for a corner.
Dane Massey, who has scored four goals this season already, tested Nathan Gartside's reflexes with a well struck free kick on the right side of the Derry box but the Candystripes keeper tipped it over the bar with a strong hand.
Massey conceded a free-kick 35 yards from his own goal after a foul on Patching and the ex-Man City man's curling strike crept in at the near post as he wrong-footed the Drogheda keeper who was caught off guard on 12 minutes.
From a corner kick Ronan Murray found Dan O'Reilly whose downward header was cleared off the line by Joe Thomson and when Massey followed up the Drogheda defender fired into the side netting.
Derry really should've doubled their lead on the half hour mark when James Akintunde raced through on goal but he screwed his shot wide of the target with Patching in support on his right.
O'Reilly saw another goalbound header cleared by the Derry defence as Drogheda again threatened from a corner kick moments later.
Goalscorer Patching tried his luck from open play with an ambitious strike which sailed harlessly over the crossbar with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
Massey header from a corner again cleared by the resolute Derry defence 60 seconds before the break but the visitors comfortably went in at the break with a one goal advantage having limited Drogheda to those half chances from set-pieces.
Murray's 25 yards strike at the start of the second half had Gartside scrambling to his left but the effort went wide of the post.
Derry had a big shout for a penalty kick on 55 minutes when Patching found Akintunde who turned O'Reilly and raced towards goal inside the penalty box but the Drogs defender appeared to impede him and the City striker went crashing down.
Despite the protests from the Derry bench and players, referee Adriano Reale blew his whistle for a free-kick to Drogheda.
It was a tale of two penalties as eight minutes later McJannet handled Massey's cross inside the six yard box and the match official made no hesitation when pointing to the spot.
Up stepped Drogs striker Mark Doyle who tucked the spotkick into the net sending Gartside the wrong way for the equalising goal - his seventh of the season.
Drogheda were denied what surely would've been a certain goal scoring chance moments later when Doyle crossed towards substitute Jordan Adeyemo who was lurking at the back post but McJannet did superbly to get a vital touch to turn it behind for a corner.
Patching put Derry in front for a second time with a stunning free-kick from 20 yards despite the best efforts from Odumosu who had a hand to the ball which crashed off the underside of the bar and into the net.
Derry were down to 10 men with eight minutes to go after Cole was shown a second yellow card for a soft foul inside his own half just mine minutes after coming off the bench.
The referee levelled it up three minutes later as Drogheda sub, Adeyemo, who went to ground inside the Derry box was shown a second booking for simulation.
Drogheda pushed for an equaliser in the closing moments but Derry held on to keep intact their impressive away form under Higgins.
Drogheda United: D. Odumosu; D. O'Reilly, C. Kane, D. Massey, J. Brown; D. Markey, K. Phillips (L. Heeney 19), G. Deegan, R. Murray (J. Clarke 61), C. Lyons, M. Doyle; Subs Not Used - C. McCabe, S. O'Brien, C. Mutawe, J. Adeyemo, R. O'Shea, D. Troy, D. Samson.
Derry City: N. Gartside; R. Boyce, E. Toal, C. McJannet, C. Coll, D. Lafferty(J Malone 64); J. Thomson (D. Cole 73), C. Harkin, W. Patching; J. Akintunde (B. Barr 93), D. Parkhouse (W. Fitzgerald 73); Subs Not Used - J. Lemoignan, M. McChrystal, D. Cole, D. Lupano, P. Ferry, C. McLaughlin