Derry City 0-1 Dundalk
Dundalk secured a magnificent performance at the Brandywell on Friday night to secure a vital 1-0 victory thanks to a cheeky Darren Mansaram goal after 54 minutes. As can only be expected against a team of Derry’s quality, the home side dominated possession and had several chances to score but the Dundalk defence, marshalled superbly by Dave Rogers, produced a disciplined and couragous display to keep a clean sheet. This victory brings Dundalk’s unbeaten league run at the Brandywell to five games. The last time Derry defeated Dundalk in a league match at the venue was in 1996.
Shuffling the pack
Dundalk manager Sean Connor had already planned to be without Liam Burns and Michael Daly. He was hit with a further blow during the warm-up when Thomas Heary was injured meaning that Michael Synott made his debut at left-back with Dave Rogers partnering the returning Simon Kelly in centre defence. Michael Coburn retained his place at right-back with Shaun Kelly returning to the side after his ankle injury to start the game at right-midfield. However, Dundalk’s bad luck was to continue in the early stages when Simon Kelly was injured and was unable to continue. Ger Rowe was introduced with Tiarnan Mulvenna moving to the right of midfield and Shaun Kelly moving to right-back.
First Half Action
After a quiet opening, Derry forced the first opportunity when Molloy’s cross was clipped wide by Morrow while under pressure from Bennion. Derry were lucky not be reduced to ten men when a dangerous tackle resulted in Simon Kelly’s injury that caused his withdrawal. Simon was on crutches following the game. Bennion had to be sharp to save a header from a corner that deflected off Rogers inside the six yard box. Shaun Kelly had Dundalk’s first effort when he tried his luck from 25 yards but Doherty made an easy save. Michael Coburn nearly got on the end of a Harpal Singh free-kick as Dundalk enjoyed a good spell of possession after 25 minutes. Darren Mansaram shot wide from 25 yards before Derry upped the tempo in the closing stages of the half. In the moments before half-time Bennion made a superb save with his feet to deny Morrow from close range.
Derry attempted to start the second half at breakneck speed but Dundalk were able to withstand the early pressure. George O’Callaghan was pulling the strings in midfield and went close with a 20 yard effort following excellent work by Turner and Singh. Dundalk forced a number of corners and it was from one of these opportunities that Dundalk took the lead after 54 minutes. Chris Turner’s delivery was headed back across the six yard box by Ger Rowe. The ball appeared to be heading behind Darren Mansaram but the big striker produced an outrageous back-heeled volley that evaded a defender and the keeper in the line to send the large Dundalk support into celebrations.
From that point onwards – Derry had the vast majority of possession and most of the play took place around the Dundalk penalty area. However, Derry created few clear-cut chances. Synott remained composed and looked very comfortable in his left-back role. Derry sent in cross after cross into the Dundalk box but, time and time again, Coburn and Rogers were there to head the ball clear. Turner and O’Callaghan were on hand to relieve the pressure and the Dundalk defence appeared to grow in confidence, Only on a few occasions can Derry feel that they were unlucky. Molly shot over the bar and Bennion again saved with his feet from Stewart. The closest Derry came to equalising came when Peter Hutton shot over the bar from seven yards following a corner. Despite several more corners and numerous dangerous crosses into the box – Dundalk’s defence held firm to secure a very important victory.
Dundalk: Bennion, Coburn, Synott, Rogers, Simon Kelly, Shaun Kelly, Harpal Singh, Chris Turner, George O’Callaghan, Tiarnan Mulvenna, Darren Mansaram. Subs: Ger Rowe for Simon Kelly, Declan O’Brien for Mansaram
Derry City: Doherty; O’Brien, McChrystal, Hutton, Gray; McGlynn (McManus, 56 mins.), Molloy (Martyn), Higgins, Stewart; Morrow, Farren (Kearney)