First Half Goals Secure Win
Dundalk moved 12 points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League on Tuesday night
First half goals from Daniel Cleary, Patrick McEleney and Patrick Hoban were enough to take the three points. Ben Fisk and a Dean Jarvis own goal in the second half made things a little nervy however Stephen Kenny’s men took the win with just four matches remaining in the campaign.
Dundalk had the first effort in the opening minutes when Patrick McEleney’s drilled pass was controlled well by Patrick Hoban however his strike was dragged inches wide from the edge of the area.
Aaron Splaine almost gave Derry City the lead as he looked to capitalise on a mistake by Gary Rogers however the netminder recovered brilliantly to tip the ball over the bar.
Dundalk did take the lead though in the 16th minute when Jamie McGrath was fouled on the right wing. Michael Duffy stood up to take and he whipped in the perfect ball to find the head of the oncoming Daniel Cleary and he powered to the net.
It was 2-0 five minutes later when a simply superb move from Hoban and Duffy finished with McEleney inside the box and his calm finish to the bottom right corner was past Doherty for his first goal for the Lilywhites since he rejoined in July and also our 100th in all competitions in 2018.
Eoin Toal fired from 30 yards for Derry but it was never threatening the goal before John Mountney found himself in behind after some wonderful interchange between Hoare, McGrath and Hoban saw McEleney find the Mayo man but he hit the side netting.
The ball broke to Duffy who tried his luck with a superb volley from 20 yards but it flashed inches wide of Doherty’s post with the goalkeeper stranded.
The Lilywhites would go 3-0 up just before the break when Hoban equalled the league record of goals in a season in stunning fashion when he peeled away from Jamie McDonagh and unleashed a perfect drive from 25 yards past Doherty to net his 25th league goal of the season.
Dundalk almost doubled their advantage immediately after the re-start when Hoban got his head on Mountney’s cross however he nodded it just wide of the target.
McEleney then gave it to Duffy and he laid it off for Hoban again however the striker failed to make contact and the chance went begging.
Hoban did look like he had got his second when he had the ball in the net after Hoare’s knockdown however it was ruled out for offside.
Duffy was then offered the chance to shoot when McGrath was fouled 25 yards from goal but his free-kick was up and over the bar.
Hoban then forced a simply stunning save from Doherty just before the hour mark when his header from Mountney’s cross looked to be finding the net at pace however the goalkeeper got a fingertip to it to send it on to the crossbar.
Derry City did pull one back with 20 minutes left on the watch when Aidy Delap did very well to get in behind and his shot was well saved by Rogers however it rebounded off the helpless Jarvis and went into the net despite his best efforts to save it.
Ronan Hale then struck from distance but it was gathered by Rogers at the second attempt while at the other end the pace of substitute Dylan Connolly beat the defence but his shot was well saved by Doherty.
Substitute Ben Fisk then pulled another one back with 2 minutes left when he got in behind and he rounded Rogers before calmly slotting the ball to the corner.
The Candystripes were reduced to 10 men in the final minute of stoppage time as they chased for an equaliser, Dundalk stole the ball and broke free through Connolly. As he was through on goal Kevin McHattie took him down and referee Paul McLaughlin gave him a red card.
Ronan Murray took the free-kick but it went over the bar and that was the final action as the Lilywhites ever so close to regaining the SSE Airtricity League crown.
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Daniel Cleary, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields (capt), Patrick McEleney (Ronan Murray 61), Jamie McGrath; John Mountney (Dylan Connolly 61), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 86).
Substitutes not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Brian Gartland, Dane Massey,, Robbie Benson.
DERRY CITY: Gerard Doherty (capt); Jamie McDonagh, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole, Kevin McHattie; Aaron McEneff (Nicky Low 46), Rory Hale, Aaron Splaine; Ronan Hale, Aidy Delap (Ben Fisk 84; Ally Roy (Dean Shiels 46)
Substitutes not used: Eric Grimes (GK), Gavin Peers, Cathal Farren
Referee: Paul McLaughlin