Airtricity Premier League: Junior seizes the initiative to help Derry stamp passport for Europe
There will be European football at the Brandywell next season after Derry City dominated Finn Harps.
The night belonged to City forward Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, who scored his second hat trick of the season to take him ahead of Dundalk’s Patrick Hoban to finish as the Premier Division’s top goalscorer.
With a play-off against Drogheda United on Monday, Harps made 11 changes to the team which defeated Waterford last week and it showed as City dominated for much of the contest.
Derry City fans packed the Brandywell in anticipation of a memorable night for their team, and after a nervy start they began to get a grip on the game, Ally Gilchrist heading into the side netting from Jamie McDonagh’s corner.
The home fans did not have long to wait for the opening goal which came just 15 minutes in. Barry McNamee was afforded too much space in midfield and he all too easily picked out the run of Junior, who raced clear before sweeping the ball past Jamie Bell for his 12th league goal of the season.
The second goal was not long in coming.
City’s sixth corner of a dominant opening period ended in a goalmouth scramble which saw Eoin Toal, David Parkhouse and Junior all involved before the ball was fired into the net, with the latter getting the congratulations from his team-mates.
Harps were the better team in the opening stages of the second half but it was Derry who struck next as a pinpoint pass from Ciaron Harkin on 64 minutes cut open the visiting defence and Junior pounced to fire in his second hat-trick of the season to secure City’s place in Europe next season.
It just got better for City from there as they put a real emphatic look on the scoreline just over 10 minutes from time with a fourth goal.
Ciaron Coll made another lung-bursting run into the Harps penalty area and hooked the ball to the edge of the penalty area where Grant Gillespie took it down before rifling a shot left-footed past the despairing dive of Jamie Bell.
Michael McCrudden had a late chance to get his first Derry City goal when he was freed by Gillespie on 89 minutes but he drilled his effort straight at Bell much to the disappointment of the Brandywell crowd.
DERRY CITY: Cherrie, Coll, Gilchrist, Toal (McChrystal 75’), Gillespie, Harkin, McNamee (McCrudden 80’), Sloggett, McDonagh (Delap 68’), Ogedi-Uzokwe, Parkhouse.
FINN HARPS: Bell, Deasy, O’Reilly, Cowan (Smith 45), Doherty, Place, Walsh, Doherty, McNamee (Coyle 67’), Farren, Logue.
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Derry City 4
Finn Harps 0
Belfast Telegraph Digital