Quality shines through as Derry come up short against Dundalk
Derry City 0-1 Dundalk
Derry City fell to their first defeat of the season despite a brave performance against champions Dundalk at the Brandywell.
Dane Massey struck the winning goal midway through the second half, just as Derry were getting on top in the game for the first time.
It was a real blow for the Candystripes, who gave as good as they got and in the end it was the quality in the final third which proved the difference between the teams, with Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rodgers barely tested all night.
There was concern for Derry on Dundalk's first foray forward as a cross from the left bounced between Shaun Kelly and Shane McEleney and fell perfectly for David McMillan, who instinctively flicked the ball goalwards from six yards only for Gerard Doherty to push the ball away to safety.
Dundalk should have taken the lead when Doherty all too casually kicked the ball out of his hands straight onto the head of John Mountney, who headed it immediately into the path of McMillan who went through on goal.
Fortunately for Derry, Doherty was able to make amends for his error as he threw himself in front of the striker and blocked the shot before a Derry shirt hacked it away to safety.
Dundalk almost took the lead in the opening minutes of the second half when Shane McEleney could only send his attempted clearance straight into the path of Ronan Finn. It needed another fine save from Doherty to keep the ball out, with the goalkeeper pushing the ball over the bar for a corner.
It was end to end stuff in the early stages of the second half and Derry produced their best passing move of the game when Ryan Curran, Patrick McEleney and Mark Timlin combined to release Kelly down the right and his cross fell for Philip Lowry in the box, only for the midfielder to slice his effort over the goal.
The confidence was oozing through Derry, who cut Dundalk apart with an excellent passing move through midfield.
A delightful pass forward saw Barry McNamee flick the ball into the path of Lowry who played Timlin in behind the Dundalk defence. Timlin bore down on goal but on his weaker right foot he hesitated slightly, allowing Massey to make up the ground to make a superb tackle.
But just minutes later, Dundalk were celebrating after finding the back of the net.
Finn was the architect as he shrugged off a challenge from Lowry in midfield and he spotted Massey completely unmarked on the edge of the Derry penalty area.
Finn's through ball was simply perfect for Massey, who flicked the ball first time beyond Doherty to ensure that the champions left the Brandywell with all three points.
DERRY CITY: Doherty, S Kelly (G Kelly 88), McBride, S McEleney, Barry, McNamee, Lowry, P McEleney, Houston, Timlin (Daniels 79), Curran.
DUNDALK: Rodgers, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Shields, Horgan (Meenan 61), Mountney (Grimes 90), McMillan (Byrne 78), Finn, Massey, Towell.
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin).