Derry City gave themselves a six-point cushion at the top the SSE Airtricity Premier Division, disposing of a determined UCD at Belfield on Monday evening.
Second-half strikes from Will Patching and Ronan Boyce were enough to maintain the Candystripes’ early season surge, preserve their unbeaten start and nudge them clear of second-placed Shamrock Rovers.
UCD defended admirably to frustrate their hosts, but were finally humbled midway through the half when Patching produced a moment of magic to place a perfect free-kick into the corner from 25-yards.
Despite their performance, the Students remain winless, rooted to the bottom of the table. However, that doesn’t paint the full picture; Andrew Myler’s students were unbeaten at home before tonight, holding Bohemians, Shelbourne and Finn Harps to scoreless draws here.
And – judging by tonight’s performance – they look capable of frustrating many more sides before the season is out.
The home side gifted Derry the first tangible chance of the evening, when they lost the ball from a throw-in well inside their own half. Jamie McGoningle was quick to collect the loose ball and lay it off to Matty Smith, however, the Scot’s shot was well saved by Lorcan Healy.
Derry improved as the game went on and nearly scored from a series of chances before the half-hour mark.
First, Cameron Dummigan’s long shot was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Healy. A minute later, McGonigle slotted a one-on-one the wrong side of the post, before Brandon Kavanagh smacked the crossbar with a looping effort from 25-yards
Fortune was on their side, but the Students were still in the game.
UCD were feeding off the counter-attacking pace of Liam Kerrigan all night, however, the 21-year-old consistently struggled to deliver the cutting final pass required.
The Students nearly nabbed an unlikely half-time lead when Brian Maher – attempting to maintain Derry’s high attacking setup – met a loose ball 40 yards from his goal line.
Misplacing a short pass in midfield, the Ireland U-21 goalkeeper could only watch on from no-man’s land when the ball fell to Colm Whelan, who struck a wild long shot well-wide of the post.
The Candystripes sought to stretch their hosts early in the second half, distributing the ball out wide to Smith, who set up camp on the sideline.
Derry were pushing forward, but, again, it was the woodwork that denied their lead; Will Patching’s shot from 25-yards kissed the crossbar before clearing the fence of the Belfied pitch.
Finally, in the 66th minute, Derry had their just reward and the opening goal. It was a moment of individual brilliance from Patching, who stood over the free-kick and stroked it into the bottom right corner from 25-yards.
Ten minutes later, the visitors wrapped up all three points thanks to the attacking work of their two full backs. Cameron McJannet was the provider from out wide as he threaded a low cross for Ronan Boyce to side foot past Healy at the back post.
Nearly a quarter of the way into the season, the Candystripes remain unbeaten and look the team to beat.
UCD: Lorcan Healy; Michael Gallagher, Eric Yoro, Sam Todd, Evan Osam, John Ryan (Dylan Duffy, 72); Jack Keaney, Adam Verdon (Evan Caffrey, 60); Liam Kerrigan, Sean Brennan (Donal Higgins, 72); Colm Whelan (Lennon Gill, 84).
Derry City: Brian Maher; Ronan Boyce, Shane McEleney, Eoin Toal, Cameron McJannet; Will Patching (Jack Malone, 84), Patrick McEleney, Cameron Dummigan, Matty Smith (James Akintunde, 70); Brandon Kavanagh (Evan McLaughlin, 84), Jamie McGonigle.
Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan.Tags: