Derry City took their winning run to five consecutive games as they edged out a battling Shelbourne side at the Brandywell last night.
Shels arrived in Derry as the only unbeaten league in the Airtricity First Division but left as the latest victim of this young and vibrant City side thanks to a second half header from Mark McChrystal.
It took Derry only three minutes to open the Shels defence when Patrick McEleney was found free at the back post following a deep cross from James McClean.
It seemed certain that McEleney was set to volley in his sixth goal in five games but the young forward miscued his effort and sent his shot straight back at McClean.
The City winger returned the ball into the danger area immediately where it fell perfectly for Ruairi Harkin but his side footed effort lacked pace and Dean Delaney gathered easily.
Shelbourne arrived at the Brandywell as the only undefeated team in the First Division but their defence was almost undone in the most spectacular fashion thanks to a moment of brilliance from McEleney.
There seemed to be no danger to the Shels goal when the ball fell for McEleney 35 yards out, but the youngster caught everyone by surprise by sending a high dipping volley at Delaney’s goal which had the goalkeeper scrambling backward before the ball came back off the upright.
The game took a dramatic twist in the early stages of the second half when Shels were reduced to ten men.
It was a nightmare moment for Paul Shiels who kicked out needlessly at Kevin Deery.
The onus was now on Derry to make the most of their numerical advantage but Shels continued to frustrate the home side, and Eric Foley sent a curling free kick straight into Gerard Doherty’s hands.
An injury to Ruairi Harkin saw Darren Cassidy enter the action with McEleney moving into attack and it almost paid dividends, as the youngster twice bamboozled Shels defenders before delivering quality final balls.
The home side finally broke the deadlock with 18 minutes remaining when a James McClean free-kick found Mark Scoltock and his header across goal was headed in on the line by McChrystal.
That goal was a crucial one for Derry as they failed to break through again despite the best efforts of McEleney, who was substituted with just two minutes remaining to a standing ovation.
Derry city: G Doherty, E McCallion, M Scoltock, M McChrystal, E Friars, J McClean, B Molloy, K Deery, R Harkin (D Cassidy 65), P McEleney (V Sweeney 88), D McDaid.
Shelbourne: D Delaney, R Scully, S Byrne (S Quigley 80), I Ryan, G Whelan, P Shiels, D McGill, C O’ Brien, D Corcoran (M Hughes 45), P Gorman, McConnell (Cooke 59), E Foley.
Referee: P Caschera (Dublin).