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McEleney recovers to help City roar home

SOMETIMES it's all about making the most of the luck that comes your way.

Derry – and in particular Shane McEleney – did that to record their first home win of the new season at the Brandywell last night and reclaim second place in the Premier Division table behind champions Sligo Rovers.

By the time Rory Patterson had given Derry the lead McEleney might well have been kicking his heels in the dressing room having gifted visitors Shelbourne the chance of opening the scoring themselves from the penalty spot.

But the rub of the green was with him and he emerged from both incidents with nothing more than a yellow card to his name.

The first of them was in the 22nd minute when the centre-half slipped just as he tried to intercept Dean Kelly's cross from the right wing, the ball striking him squarely on the arm, but referee Dave McKeon allowed play to continue.

And even though he did end up in McKeon's book eight minutes later after pulling down a goal-bound Philip Hughes, he was extremely fortunate the card wasn't red instead, thanks to a rather liberal interpretation of the last man rule.

Those matters aside, Derry were worth the lead which Patterson gave them in the 33rd minute, Barry McNamee carving out an opening on the left which allowed the striker in to curl in past keeper Niall Burdon.

Barry Molloy should have done better with a free kick from just outside's Burdon's area in the 41st minute. Then a great passing move cut open the Shels' defence, Ruaidhri Higgins wasting the opportunity by hammering it over the bar from Michael Rafter's delivery.

It was a more attack-minded Shelbourne in the second half and Patterson nearly took full advantage in the 56th minute when only Brian Shortall's last ditch challenge denied him a clear-cut opening. The rebound fell kindly for Rafter, but he sliced his follow-up just wide.

Derry's second goal came in the 64th minute when Patterson managed to get in behind the defence and he rifled a cross into the six-yard box where the in-rushing Paul Crowley steered it into his own net.

Derry might have had a penalty themselves in the 66th minute when Patterson was tripped by Jack Memory, but once again McKeon was having none of it.

Derry continued to dominate and a third goal seemed in the offing as McNamee got onto the end of a Higgins through ball, but he shot somewhat tamely at Burdon.

There was nothing tame about Michael Raffer's strike two minutes from time as he thumped in Derry's third off the underside of the crossbar.

There was no doubting the legitimacy of the penalty award for Derry's fourth as Memory brought down Rafter and Griffin converted, but only after Burdon had half-stopped it, before he watch the ball creep over the line.

Derry City: Doherty, Molloy, S McEleney, Higgins, Patterson, McBride, Rafter, Houston, Madden, Crawley, McNamee. Subs: McCaffrey, Griffin, P McEleney, Gallagher, Duffy, Curran, Kelly.

Shelbourne: Burdon, Shortall, Memory, Crawley, Hughes, Kelly, Bayly, Leech, Hurley, Cornwall, Ryan. Subs: Brennan, Flynn, O'Connor, Prizeman, Mooney, Tinnelly, Comerford.

Referee: Dave McKeon (Meath).

Belfast Telegraph


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