O'Brien's brace leaves Derry down and out
Derry City 1 Drogheda United 3: Derry City's season continues to spiral out of control as they were undone by a Declan O'Brien brace in last night's EA Sports League Cup semi-final at the Brandywell.
Declan Devine's team have now lost six of their last seven games in all competitions and this performance was arguably the worst of the lot as Drogheda cantered to an easy win.
The fact that Derry could not get up for a game with a cup final at stake will be of huge concern to Devine.
Derry fell behind after 20 minutes when a comedy of errors in the defence led to Drogheda's opener.
Gerard Doherty spilled a cross in the six yard box and in the ensuing melee Mick Daly crashed an effort off the crossbar. Doherty had a second chance to gather the ball, but fumbled again and this time Declan O'Brien took full advantage, sliding the ball into the empty net.
It was Michael Duffy who finally showed some fight in the City team, one surging run from midfield followed by a jinking sprint into the Drogheda area, past two defenders before he was blocked as he prepared to shoot.
That small show of spirit was enough to rouse not only the Brandywell crowd, but his team mates too and within minutes, City were level.
A promising attack ending with Thomas Crawley's superb cross taking out goalkeeper Michael Schlingermann and David McDaid tapped in the equaliser acrobatically at the back post on 38 minutes.
Derry should have taken the lead just three minutes into the second half in a move which summed up the tale of their two strikers.
McDaid, full of confidence following his third goal in six games, worked his way into the Drogheda penalty area superbly before sending over the perfect cross, which again took out Schlingermann, but Rory Patterson, without a goal in two months, headed wide of an open goal.
Drogheda then caught Derry cold on 67 minutes, O'Brien threading a ball through the defence for Cassidy to race onto and he kept his composure before firing the ball beyond Doherty.
Derry were down and out O'Brien completed his treble on 77 minutes and it was farcical all around from Derry.
Simon Madden sent a cross into the penalty area and although four Derry players waited, no one attacked the ball and the danger was cleared. The clearance turned into a race for the ball at the other end of the pitch between Stewart Greacen and O'Brien.
Bizarrely Greacen tried to buy himself a free kick by throwing himself to the ground, but referee Paul Tuite waved play on. Drogheda quickly outnumbered the City defence and O'Brien had all the space he needed to curl the ball beyond Doherty and into the net off the post.
Derry now travel to UCD this Friday desperate for a win to arrest this alarming run of results.
Derry CITY: Doherty, Madden, Greacen, S McEleney, Crawley (McNamee 66 mins), Kavanagh (Griffin 70 mins), Duffy, Houston, Molloy, McDaid, Patterson (McEleney 70 mins).
Drogheda UNITED: Schlingermann, Prendergast, McNally, O'Connor (Brennan 58 mins), Brady, Grimes, Cassidy (Hynes 85 mins), O'Brien, Daly, Marks (Brennan 58 mins), Byrne.
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin).