Given the captain’s armband for the night, the 32-year-old will have been happy to celebrate with a win which brought his side to within a point of league leaders Shamrock Rovers.
While the game was certainly nowhere near the quality of last Friday night’s demolition of UCD, Brandywell boss Stephen Kenny will have welcomed the points.
After a sluggish start to the game, it was Drogheda who threatened to spark into life when midfielder Cillian Thompson directed a shot wide of the target in the 12th minute.
But the home side eventually broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute following a fluent move.
Shane McEleney sent Eamon Zayed scampering clear on the right and his deep cross was headed in by the unmarked Kevin Deery at the back post.
Drogheda then went close to restoring equality in the 35th minute when Darragh Hanaphy beat the offside trap but the striker could only drill his shot into the side-netting.
In the 67th minute Zayed drove the ball into the Drogheda net but an alert referee’s assistant flagged for offside.
Despite continuing to press, Derry failed to score that vital insurance goal, with Drogheda always dangerous on the break.
Gareth McGlynn should have doubled Derry’s lead in the 80th minute but he failed to make proper contact with the ball when well placed.
Zayed finally put the result beyond doubt four minutes into injury time when he guided the ball home after a superb break by Derry substitute Harkin.
Doherty; McCallion, Greacen, S McEleney, Lafferty; McGlynn , Higgins (McBride 57), Deery (Harkin 63), McClean; P McEleney (McLaughlin 76), Zayed.
Trimble; Nolan, McNally, Ekanem, Hand; Freeman (Corcoran 72), Flynn (O’Brien 46), Thompson, Gannon, McNamara (Skelly 80); Hanaphy.
Referee: D Tomney (Dublin).