Patrick McEleney’s magic proves crucial as Derry stand firm
Athlone Town 0 Derry City 1: A wonder goal from Patrick McEleney earned Derry City their first away league win of the season.
McEleney’s 35-yard free-kick midway through the first half proved decisive as Peter Hutton’s men built on Thursday night’s Europa League win over Aberystwyth.
But it was far from comfortable for Derry as Athlone pushed hard for an equaliser.
Philip Lowry started on the right side of City’s midfield on his league debut and he very nearly made his mark after just three minutes.
Lowry’s run into the Athlone area was spotted by Rory Patterson, whose quick throw in gave the former Linfield man a sight of goal, but his volley from the angle flashed just wide of the target.
Derry were struggling to impose themselves in the opening stages but they were awoken from their slumber 19 minutes in as Patrick McEleney gave his side the lead with a contender for goal of the season.
Athlone came close on 25 minutes when Ventre lost possession just 30 yards from goal and Philip Gorman was played through against Gerard Doherty.
However, as Gorman bore down on the City goalkeeper, Shane McEleney blocked the shot and sent the ball behind for a corner.
Athlone almost levelled when a free-kick floated into a packed penalty area was allowed to travel all the way through to the back post where Gorman arrived unmarked.
The striker seemed certain to score but Doherty somehow managed to touch the ball onto the post and Ryan McBride was able to clear.
Athlone bossed the second half but despite the best efforts of Sean Brennan and Gorman, the hosts lacked the necessary quality to breach the Derry defence.
Athlone nearly equalised with five minutes remaining as full back Stephen Quigley got in behind the Derry defence and hooked the ball past Doherty, only for Aaron Barry to clear.
That was the last chance for Athlone as City just about held on for the three points.
Athlone: Skinner, Quigley, Prendergast, Byrne, A Byrne, O’Brien, Hughes, Dillon, Rusk (Mulroy 81’), Brennan (Sweeney 81’), Gorman.
Derry: Doherty, Barry, McBride (Jarvis 45’), S McEleney, Ventre, Duffy, Molloy, McNamee, Lowry (Curran 87’), P McEleney (Boyle 75’), Patterson.