Derry City moved three points clear on the summit of the Premier Division following a stunning performance against Shamrock Rovers at the Brandywell last night.
And having stretched their unbeaten run to six matches after losing their opening game of the season to Finn Harps, it’s become clear that Kenny Shiels’ Candystripes have emerged as the early surprise packages of the new campaign.
Last night’s win was impressive, Derry dominating the first half when leading 2-0 and having closed the game out in the 58th minute, the home side successfully maintained possession, happy to hit on the break.
Kenny Shiels’ side couldn’t have asked for a better start when breaking the deadlock before two minutes had elapsed. Having failed to adequately clear a corner, Rovers’ defender, Gavin Brennan cleared a Barry McNamee shot off his line.
But back came Derry and when McNamee cruised into the danger area, the midfielder’s attempted shot was deflected into the path of Ronan Curtis and the winger tapped the ball home — he will never score an easier goal.
Spurred on by that confidence-boosting start, Derry then doubled their lead in the 22nd minute.
Curtis and McNamee combined on the left and when the latter delivered a telling cross into the penalty area, Harry Monaghan rose above the visiting defence to powerfully head home from 10 yards.
In the 26th minute, Murphy did well to pull off a good save when Rory Patterson produced a superb lob but the back-peddling keeper did well to touch the ball wide of his post at the expense of a corner.
However, Patterson did find the net in the 35th minute when sent clear by McNamee but that effort was ruled out for offside.
Derry went close again one minute before the break when a Keith Ward shot flashed narrowly wide of the Rovers upright, after Patterson had played the winger in.
Rovers could only point to a Killian Brennan free which cannoned off Derry’s defensive wall just before half-time and after the break, Gary McCabe sent a shot screaming wide of the target after Derry skipper, Ryan McBride, had scuffed a defensive clearance.
But the Candystripes were not to be denied their hopes of leading the Premier Division and, in the 58th minute, they ended this game as a contest, when awarded a penalty.
Centre-back, Max Blanchard appeared to have held Patterson as the striker attempted to challenge for possession and referee, David McKeon immediately pointed to the spot.
Having dusted himself down, Patterson lashed the ball home, much to the delight of the estimated home attendance of 3,500.
Now content to hit on the counter, Patterson broke clear again to hit the target but, for a second time on the night, his strike was ruled out for offside.
Doherty; Vemmelund, McBride, Barry, Jarvis; Ward, Monaghan, McEneff, Curtis; McNamee; Patterson.
Murphy; Madden, Blanchard, O’Connor (Webster, h/t), G. Brennan; K. Brennan, Drennan, McCabe, Cregg, Miele; McCabe; North.
Referee - D. McKeon (Dublin).