McEleney's magic does trick for Derry
Published 20/08/2011 | 05:00
An intriguing contest laced with second-half drama eventually concluded with a win for Derry City, which moved them three points clear at the top of the table.
With fellow title contenders Sligo Rovers in action today and Shamrock Rovers playing tomorrow, Derry were under pressure to take all three points here and they were forced to strain every sinew by Bohemians to secure a vital victory at Dalymount Park.
Derry have earned points and plaudits with their fine football this season and they showed a different quality as they produced the character required to eke out this victory.
Patrick McEleney's sublime back-heel in the 69th minute was eventually what separated the sides at the end of a fascinating match.
The opening half was a collision of Bohemians passion against Derry's purposeful approach.
The locals were enthusiastic, thundering into the tackles as they sought to deny Derry time and space on the ball.
Despite all of Bohemians' grit, there were some clever cameos from the visitors during a lively start.
Still, for all Derry's pretty work, they weren't able to craft chances easily as Bohemians defence, featuring four League of Ireland veterans, provided goalkeeper Barry Murphy with ample protection.
Derry's return to the top flight has been laced with dynamic displays, with a 13-game unbeaten League run confirming the Candystripes' class.
Stephen Kenny, though, has been forced to deal with the departure of James McClean for Sunderland, while Gareth McGlynn is nursing a knee injury.
Those losses mean that Derry have lost the two wingers who served them so well on their march to the summit, but Kenny has coped with problems before and Stephen McLaughlin's promise on the left pitted him in an interesting battle with the wily Bohs right-full Owen Heary.
Four minutes before the interval Bohemians had an opportunity when Keith Buckley's pass fell kindly for Aidan Downes, but Barry Molloy reacted smartly to ensure the teams went in at the break on terms.
That could have altered 90 seconds after the restart when Ruaidhri Higgins released McLaughlin, but his firm shot struck the outside of the post.
Suddenly there was action at either end and, after two Killian Brennan crosses were defended, substitute Stephen Hurley picked out Heary, who was unable to hit the target with a volley under pressure.
There was fire and fury in the contest, but Derry kept beavering away and with McEleney redeployed to assist Eamon Zayed in attack they pounced in the 69th minute.
Kevin Deery's corner was met by a Zayed header, Murphy got down low to make a brave save, but McEleney's subtle flick trickled over the line, and Derry hit the front.
Late on, Bohemians pressed for a leveller and substitute Chris Forrester came tantilisingly close, but Derry held on for a hugely satisfying success.
Bohemians -- Murphy; Heary, Burns (Forrester 82), Price, Cahill; Buckley (Hurley 46), O'Brien, Cronin, Brennan; Fagan (Flood, 58), Downes.
Derry City -- Doherty; McCallion, Greacen, S McEleney, Lafferty; P McEleney, Deery, Molloy, Higgins (Harkin 90), McLaughlin; Zayed (McDaid 81).
Ref -- N Doyle (Dublin).