Ascroft the Harps hero as rare derby win moves Ballybofey men 3 points clear of drop zone
Finn Harps 1 Derry City 0
HARRY ASCROFT was the hero of the hour as Finn Harps secured a rare derby win over Derry City.
The Australian’s 66th minute header gave Harps only their eighth ever competitive win over their rivals.
Finn Park was hopping as Ascroft headed Harps to a win that could prove priceless as Ollie Horgan’s men moved three points clear of UCD in the survival battle.
Tony McNamee - who had been sprung from the bench just 90 seconds earlier - launched a missile of a long throw. It was by no means a gimme for the Australian, who did well to outmuscle Greg Sloggett before planting his header to the River End net.
Seventeen minutes from the end, Mikey Place, after a good move down the right-hand side rolled wide of the far post with a big chance to double the advantage.
Moments previously, Sloggett headed wide from a Jamie McDonagh cross as Derry sought a way back into the tie.
Harps veteran Raffaele Cretaro was honoured before the game with a presentation to mark his 500th League of Ireland appearance and the 37-year-old was given a rousing reception at his 84th minute withdrawal.
The opening passages were all rather timid, but Jamie McDonagh caused Harps some trouble on the half-hour with a pair of teasing crosses from the right.
The alert Daniel O’Reilly cut out the first of them, while Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe headed the second well wide.
Harps ‘keeper Mark Anthony McGinley - who had conceded just once in his previous four games - did well to save with his legs at the near post when Junior connected with purpose after McDonagh failed to hit the target with a volley.
McGinley had his blushes spared - and those of defender Sam Todd - just before half-time when David Parkhouse headed over.
Parkhouse reacted sharply when McGinley’s attempted clearance from Todd’s timid back pass spun into the Ballybofey sky.
Ten minutes into the second half, McGinley thwarted McDonagh with a superb save after Greg Sloggett cut the path open.
Finn Harps - McGinley; O’Reilly, Cowan, Todd; Borg, Ascroft, Harkin, Timlin (McNamee 64), Russell; Cretaro (S Doherty 84); Place (Walsh 92).
Derry - Cherrie; Cole, Toal (McCrudden 77), Gilchrist, Coll; Sloggett, McDonagh, Harkin, (Davis 80) Bruna; Parkhouse, Ogedi-Uzokwe (Eoghan Stokes 77).
Ref - N. Doyle.