Derry City 0 Shamrock Rovers 1
Derry City fell four points behind Shamrock Rovers at the top of the Premier Division after a late Danny Mandriou goal condemned them to defeat at Tallaght.
Ruaidhri Higgins’ men were the better team for most of the game and created three solid scoring chances, but failed to take them and that cost them as Rovers struck on 79 minutes.
City had the best early chance to take the lead when they caught Rovers out on a quick counter-attack.
Brandon Kavanagh took the ball clear in his own half and picked out the run of Joe Thomson, who in turn found Jamie McGonigle in space on the edge of the area.
McGonigle could have taken a shot but he played it cleverly into the run of Matty Smith, who was alone in the area, only for the midfielder’s touch to desert him with only Alan Mannus to beat, and the chance was gone.
Derry were growing in confidence and they were bothering Rovers with their pressing game when off the ball. That pressing saw Thomson win the ball in midfield, which allowed Kavanagh the space to cross to the back post where McGonigle arrived and hit it full force, only for Mannus to keep the ball out before Will Patching shot the rebound into the side netting.
Rovers were growing frustrated as the half progressed, a feeling that increased in the ground when Richie Towell sent two opportunities into the night sky. Towards the end of the half the champions began to apply some consistent pressure on the Derry defence, but the best they had to show was a half-hearted effort from Rory Gaffney which trickled wide.
Rovers started the second half in more determined fashion but it was Derry who created the first chance when Thomson won the ball in midfield and continued his run forward before playing Danny Lafferty into a shooting position in the area, but again Mannus was there to save.
Rovers were prodding and probing but the best chances were coming Derry’s way. Another came and went on 66 minutes when Brian Maher’s punt forward found Patching in behind the Rovers defence and his low ball across goal found Thomson, but his effort on the stretch was deflected behind for a corner.
It took 75 minutes for Rovers to carve open a chance and it was one they should have taken. After being fortuitously awarded a corner for a Graham Burke shot which hit the side netting, Rovers recycled the ball and delivered it deep into the area. Burke picked up an attempted punch from Maher and laid the ball across goal for Sean Hoare, but the defender blazed over the bar.
Rovers were starting to purr however and on 79 minutes they got the goal they craved but barely deserved. Andy Lyons ran at Ronan Boyce in the area and his shot was parried by Maher straight into the path of substitute Mandriou, who couldn’t miss from close range.
That goal was enough for Rovers as they held Derry at bay. After leading the league table by six points just a few weeks ago, Derry now trail by four after only their second league defeat.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus, Gannon (Kavanagh 55), Hoare, Lopes, Lyons, Finn (Connor 81), McCann (Watts 68), Towell, Burke, Gaffney (Mandriou 68), Byrne.
DERRY CITY: Maher, Boyce, McEleney, Toal, Lafferty, Dummigan, Thomson, Patching, Kavanagh (Akintunde 67), McGonigle, Smith (McLaughlin 78).
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)
Man of the match: Will Patching
Match rating: 7/10