Drogheda 1-0 Derry
Cathal Brady’s 53rd-minute strike settled a hard-fought Premier Division clash at United Park as Drogheda took a huge step towards safeguarding their Premier status.
In an uneventful first half, the respective keepers only had one notable save apiece to make, Drogs captain Shane Grimes and Derry’s Rory Patterson the players denied.
But Brady volleyed home a Carl Walshe cross eight minutes after the restart to give Drogheda the lead and Damien Richardson’s charges dealt comfortably with everything the Candystripes threw at them in the remaining time.
The home side lined out without two of their key men in Gavin Brennan and Gavan Holohan, both through suspension, and that meant a full debut for Garreth Brady, younger brother of Irish international Robbie.
A dour first 15 minutes resulted as the two sides cancelled each other out, but then Drogheda threatened twice in quick succession, Shane Grimes drawing a save from Derry keeper Gerard Doherty and Garreth Brady going close with a 25-yard free kick.
The Candystripes responded with their first real attack in the 23rd minute as Josh Tracey cut in from the left wing and hit a fierce drive which was blocked behind by Ciaran McGuigan.
Drogheda keeper Micheal Schlingermann was then forced into a fine fingertip save from a swerving Rory Patterson effort, but the game then petered out again coming up to half-time as neither side could find a way through two well-drilled defences.
Derry boss Peter Hutton made a change at the interval, replacing Nathan Boyle with Pat McEleney, but within 60 seconds of the restart Gary O’Neill was inches away from a tap-in goal for Drogheda from Grimes’ cross.
And on 53 minutes it was the Boynesiders who struck, Cathal Brady volleying home at the near post from Carl Walshe’s pinpoint cross.
A minute later another centre from Walshe was met on the volley by Peter McGlynn, but he blazed over the bar.
Belatedly Derry began to ask a few questions of the Drogheda defence, but these were answered as shots from Pat McEleney and Patterson were blocked by Alan McNally and Daire Doyle respectively.
At the other end Doherty was forced into a save from McGlynn as the Boynesiders began to find gaps in the opposition defence, but Derry sacrificed centre-half Cliff Byrne for the last 16 minutes as they chased an equaliser.
Drogheda United: Micheal Schlingermann; Daire Doyle, Alan McNally, Ciaran McGuigan, Shane Grimes; Cathal Brady (Paul Andrews 90), Michael Daly, Peter McGlynn, Garreth Brady (Paul Crowley 84), Carl Walshe; Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 87).
Subs not used: Roy Kierans, Ciaran O’Connor, Dylan Connolly.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Shaun Kelly, Cliff Byrne (Barry McNamee 74), Shane McEleney, Dean Jarvis; Josh Tracey, Nathan Boyle (Pat McEleney 46), Barry Molloy, Philip Lowry, Mark Timlin (Stephen Dooley 62); Rory Patterson.
Subs not used: Sean Houston, Ryan Curran, Aaron Barry, Ciaran Gallagher.
Referee: Sean Grant