Patience pays dividends as the Derry City strike late
Finn Harps 0 - Derry City 2
Derry City hit two late goals to beat Finn Harps 2-0 on a frantic night in Ballybofey. With little between the sides, defender Darren Cole struck with just four minutes remaining. As Harps pushed forward in search of an equaliser, Derry struck again deep into added time, Aaron McEneff taking them back into third place.
It was Harps who were on top in the early stages as they almost caught Derry short early on. A free-kick awarded on the right flank was quickly taken by Sean Houston, who played the ball through to Caolan McAleer. He went one-on-one with Gerard Doherty but failed to beat the Derry captain.
On the rare occasion Derry did string a few passes together they looked dangerous, and when McEneff's burst forward ended in a corner, Nicky Low's in-swinger found Eoin Toal, whose looping header eluded Ciaran Gallagher and bounced off the top of the Harps crossbar.
The deadlock was nearly broken just past the half hour when Rory Patterson won an aerial challenge with Packie Mailey and flicked the ball into the path of Josh Daniels, who in turn knocked it down for McEneff, whose volley deflected behind for a corner.
The game took a controversial turn just three minutes later when Harps knocked the ball out due to a head injury. But with referee Ray Matthews waving play on, Derry resumed and when Daniels' cross was not dealt with by the Harps defence, the ball fell for Patterson, whose volley was beaten away by Gallagher.
Just before the hour mark, Derry really should have taken the lead after a well-worked corner routine caught the Harps defence sleeping and Dean Jarvis crossed to the back post where Patterson was unmarked. The striker again disappointed.
The introduction of BJ Banda gave Harps fresh impetus, and within two minutes of his arrival he could well have given them the lead, Ciaran Coll's cross eluding both Cole and Toal. Banda had just Doherty to beat, but the goalkeeper was out quickly.
The breakthrough finally came just four minutes from time, much to the dismay of Harps. Gallagher misjudged the flight of the ball and conceded a needless corner, and the hosts paid the price. Low's in-swinger was not dealt with properly and with the ball bouncing around the area, defender Cole pounced to fire in from close range for his first goal for the Candystripes.
Harps pushed forward in a bid for an equaliser, but three minutes of added time saw Derry take control, and they made sure of the win when McEneff went through, rounded Gallagher and slotted the ball into the net to make sure of the three points.
Finn Harps: Gallagher, McNulty, Coll, Cantwell, Mailey, Harkin, McAleer, Houston, Boyle, Keita (Banda 66), Dsane (Bonner 78).
Derry City: G Doherty, Jarvis, McDermott, Toal, Cole, Schubert (Boyle 73), Daniels (B Doherty 78), Low, McEneff, McNamee, Patterson.
Referee: Ray Matthews.