Super sub Cian Kavanagh snatches victory for Derry City

St Patrick's Athletic 0 Derry City 1

Derry City super sub Cian Kavanagh kept their title charge going as his second half strike was enough to secure a hard-fought win at St Patrick's Athletic.

The former Waterford striker scored the all-important winning goal, with his first touch, to ensure the Candystripes aren't going away, as they closed the gap on leaders Shamrock Rovers to two points.

Ruaidhri Higgins' side, who dominated for long periods in the first half, but showed they could defend when called upon after the break and the pace that they had coming off the bench was the telling factor in the end, as they secured their seventh victory in a row.

After just 80 seconds, a lovely pass by Ciaran Coll released Michael Duffy down the left, but the winger's cross-cum-shot, which had Saints keeper Daniel Rogers, flashed just past the right-hand post.

Derry continued to play on the front foot and that man, Duffy, went close again on 10 minutes, but his left-footed strike from the edge of the box was straight at Rogers.

Minutes later, City keeper Brian Maher made a wonderful save to keep out Sam Curtis' close range header, diving full stretch to keep the effort out, before referee Derek Tomney awarded a free to the visitors after Harry Brockbank had fouled the ex-Bray Wanderers net-minder.

Derry were inches away from taking the lead on 21 minutes after Will Patching was wiped out by Jamie Lennon on the edge of the box, the Englishman's resulting clever free kick, which was guided underneath the Saints wall, was kept out by a diving Rogers.

Just before the break, Patching saw his left footed strike from a tight angle hit the side netting, as the visitors continued to look for the breakthrough.

Derry suffered an injury blow right on the stroke of half-time as skipper Patrick McEleney picked up what looked like a groin injury and had to be replaced by Ryan Graydon at the break.

The Brandywell men should have taken the lead on 50 minutes as Duffy's right wing free-kick found an unmarked Mark Connolly, but the big centre-back's close range side-footed shot was off target.

Maher was called into action moments later as Chris Forrester's whipped free kick from the left was easily tipped over by the Derry number one.

Just after the hour mark, the home side went close as a teasing Adam O'Reilly cross into the City six-yard box, beat team-mate Eoin Doyle and Maher, before sailing just wide.

Derry broke the deadlock on 70 minutes in stunning fashion as Graydon's clever flick released Cian Kavanagh and with his first touch the big striker blasted home from 20 yards, putting the ball low into Rogers' bottom right hand.

The woodwork came to City's rescue a minute later as Forrester's low stinging drive from the edge of the box, which had Maher beaten, crashed against the foot of the left-hand post.

Both sides were reduced to ten men in stopping time as Forrester and Graydon were dismissed after altercation.

St Patrick's Athletic: Rogers, Cotter, Redmond, Grivosti, Lennon, Atakayi (M Doyle 58) Forrester, E Doyle (Owolabi 79), Brockbank (King 72), O'Reilly, Curtis.

Derry City: Maher, Boyce, Connolly, McJannet, Coll; Dummigan, Diallo (Thomson 68); McEleney (Graydon HT), Patching (Lafferty 86), Duffy, McGonigle (C Kavanagh 68).

 Referee: Mr Derek Tomney (Dublin).