Dundalk 1 Derry City 0: John Mountney kept Dundalk’s 100% home record intact with a scrappy late winner to break Derry City’s resistence at Oriel Park last night.
Derry looked like they would be the first side to deny the champions victory on home soil this season until the substitute’s deflected strike four minutes from time.
The ball broke to the Mayo man at the edge of the area with his hit-and-hope shot as he was falling taking a wicked deflection off Shane McEleney to creep past a helpless Shaun Patton.
Derry looked full value for their point up until then having frustrated Stephen Kenny’s side right from the off.
The pressing of Seanan Clucas, Barry McNamee and Philip Lowry in midfield, coupled with a high defensive line, meant that Dundalk never really got into the sort of passing flow which had seen them record 10 wins from 12 outings prior to last night.
Indeed, Peter Hutton’s visitors could well have claimed victory themselves having had the better of the chances throughout.
Dundalk started well with David McMillan firing wide after catching Shane McEleney in possession after four minutes before Ronan Finn headed just over from a Richie Towell cross 12 minutes later.
Derry settled though and had the Lilywhites on the back foot for the remainder of the half.
On 20 minutes Aaron Barry’s cross from the left picked out Cillian Morrison but the striker could only divert his effort straight at Gary Rogers from close range.
The Dundalk goalkeeper had a real let-off five minutes later when he spilled a shot from the right from Mark Timlin through his legs, only to gather at the second attempt.
The home side did go close before the break, however, when a Daryl Horgan shot from the left deflected just wide of Shaun Patton’s post.
The pressure from the visitors continued into the second half with Lowry pulling a good chance wide from the edge of the area two minutes after the restart.
As expected, the league leaders began to up the pressure as the half wore on with Towell forcing a good save from Patton on the hour after being set up by Finn.
Derry were always a threat on the break though with Morrison having strong penalty appeals turned down four minutes later after going down in the area under a Paddy Barrett challenge.
Nothing was given by referee John McKell though, with Stephen O’Donnell and Sean Gannon both stinging the palms of Patton after that.
He could do little about Mountney’s deflected winner four minutes from time, however, as Dundalk preserved their 100% home record to stretch their lead at the top of the table to seven points.
Derry almost snatched a draw right at the death, however, when Ryan Curran rounded Rogers only to be dispossessed by Gannon, with Barrett on hand to hook off the line.
DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Barrett, Boyle, Massey; Meenan (Mountney 69), Shields (O’Donnell 66), Towell, Horgan; Finn (Byrne 84), McMillan.
DERRY CITY: Patton; Sharkey, McBride, McEleney, Barry; Timlin, Clucas, Lowry, McNamee (Houston 87), Jarvis; Morrison (Curran 83).
Referee: J McKell (Tipperary)
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