Derry left it late but had enough left in the tank to deal their Airtricity League Premier Division title rivals a severe blow at the Brandywell last night.
For a side right up there in the title race, St Patrick’s Athletic were extremely disappointing and barely managed an attempt on Gerard Doherty’s goal until after they had fallen behind.
Eamon Zayed cut a lonely figure at times, playing up front on his own and the five-man midfield Derry deployed contributed to the strangulation of the match as a spectacle.
The first clear cut chance of the game in the 16th minute, though, did fall to Zayed as Kevin Deery worked his way down the right wing and crossed where the Libyan international just failed to steer it inside the post.
Derry right back Daniel Lafferty had a couple of chances to break the deadlock when he spurned.
St Pat’s had keeper Chris Bennion to thank for keeping the game scoreless at the break after his excellent double save in the 39th minute.
He did well to block an effort from Stephen McLaughlin in the 39th minute and he then threw himself at the follow-up attempt from Patrick McEleney.
And McEleney carved out another good chance as Derry upped the tempo just before the break, fizzing in a low shot which flew wide of Bennion’s post.
After the break McLaughlin sent a shot just wide two minutes after the restart.
Zayed almost pulled off a remarkable move in the 50th minute when he controlled the ball with his back to goal, knocked it over his head and turned for the volley which unfortunately went absolutely nowhere near his target.
But it was Zayed who got the breakthrough albeit in fortunate circumstances in the 71st minute. The striker appeared to have given up hope as he chased another long ball, but a mix-up between Bennion and Brian Shortall allowed him to get a touch which sent the ball trickling over the line.
And it was game over ten minutes later as Pat’s David Mulchahy tried to clear a Kevin Deery corner and succeeded only in steering the ball past his own keeper for the second.
Derry City: Doherty, McCallion, Molloy, Greacen, S McEleney, Deery, P McEleney, McLaughlin, Higgins, Zayed, Lafferty. Subs: Friars, Harkin, McDaid, McBride, Ferry, McCrudden, Henry.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Bennion, Pender, Birmingham, McMillan, Kavanagh, Bradley, North, McMillan, Doyle, Shortall, Mulcahy. Subs: Kenna, O’Connor, Stewart, Crawley, Carroll, Guthrie, Daly.
Referee: Dave McKeon (Dublin).