Higgins hails 'amazing' Derry run which puts Candystripes six points clear
Airtricity League Premier Division: Finn Harps 1 Derry City 2
Catch us if you can - that's the early season cry from table-toppers Derry City as they completed the first series of games in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division with a sixth win in a row.
A first half Cameron McJannet goal paved the way for a City victory in the north-west derby in Ballybofey on Saturday and a result that restores the Candystripes' six-point lead at the summit.
City were never in any real danger of losing to their near neighbours and got their second goal through a stunning Will Patching free on 87 minutes before Harps pulled one back with a Filip Mihaljevic penalty on 90 minutes.
Admittedly it set up a pulsating stoppage time finish as Harps got a late corner, but in truth City were good value for their success.
City boss Ruaidhrí Higgins was understandably pleased with the outcome, despite a nervy final couple of minutes.
“It's a huge three points on a difficult pitch, we're delighted where we are,” he said.
“When Patching scored the second, we tried to shore it up and brought on Ciaran (Coll) for Danny (Lafferty) and Evan (McLaughlin) on for Matty Smith and tried to stiffen up in midfield., but we gave away a sloppy goal straight away.”
But he pointed out that he did not want to be critical of his players as they have been “absolutely amazing”.
He also described their three away wins in an eight-day period as being “nothing short of outstanding” and praised the attitude of all in the squad.
He felt that they should have been more than one up at half-time, and had played well in the first half. They had to “scrap it out” a bit after the break but were still deserved winners.
Harps manager OIlie Horgan was disappointed with the goals that Harps had conceded and felt that they had acquitted themselves well, particularly in the second half.
“All we can do is move on,” he said.
After a few chances at both ends, City took the lead in the 22nd minute with McJannet rising above the Harps defence to head home a Brandon Kavanagh corner.
After the break, Shane McEleney and Matty Smith, twice, had opportunities for City while at the other end Harps captain Dave Webster saw a header clipping the top of the bar.
Try as they did, Harps were unable to stop City's march and Patching struck with his fifth goal of the season to make it 2-0 in the 87th minute as he fired home a wonderful free.
Substitute Mahaljevic pulled one back for Harps with a penalty as the game went into stoppage time after he was taken down by substitute Ciaran Coll but it was too little, too late for a Harps side that is still searching for a first win of the season.
City are now unbeaten in nine games, having won seven and drawn two.
Finn Harps: McGinley; Boyle, Tourist, Webster, Slevin; Hery (Mihaljevic, 56), N'Zeyi, McNamee, Rainey; McWoods (Tinlin, 79 mins), Mahdy (Rudden 6, 67 mins)..
Derry City: Maher; Boyce, McEleney, Toal, McJannet; Dummigan, Kavanagh (Thomson 6, 76 mins), Patching, Lafferty (McLaughlin , 89); Smith (Coll, 89),, McGonigle.(Akintunde 6, 75 mins).
Referee: J. McLoughlin.