Second-half strikes from Robbie Benson and Darragh Burns steered St Patrick's Athletic to the top of the table and a 2-0 victory at the expense of Derry City.

Stephen O’Donnell’s Saints controlled the tie and eased to a third straight win to move clear above Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers, for one night at least.

The hapless Candystripes played an hour with ten men following the dismissal of Danny Lupano and rarely looked likely to come away from Inchicore with their first points of the season.


Defeats to newly-promoted Longford Town and Waterford in their opening two games meant Declan Devine's side came to Dublin in search of a morale-boosting performance.

The early signs were good as the Candystripes played aggressively and disrupted Pats’ passing game early doors, though Lupano was a little reckless in picking up a yellow for a lunge on Matty Smith.

They did manage to create the game’s first clear chance as Jack Malone dug out a cross for James Akintunde, but he couldn’t steer his header inside the near post.

That high line left space in behind for Saints to exploit, however, and Smith did just that to spin the centre-half and race clear.

Lupano tugged the winger’s shirt and referee Ben Connolly was left with no alternative but to issue a second caution after just half an hour.

Derry initially looked comfortable with the transition to a flat back four but the extra space brought the passing games of Chris Forrester and Benson to the fore.

Forrester was one of three to test Northern Ireland under-21 keeper Nathan Gartside before the break, Smith and Ian Bermingham the others, but each found the stopper equal to the task.

The pressure kept coming after the break, however, and the dam was eventually breached on the hour mark, courtesy of Benson.

Rónán Coughlan weaved his way through a crowd scene in the Derry box and laid the ball off for Benson to slot home.

And the points were sealed ten minutes later as substitute Burns latched onto an outstanding Sam Bone through ball, drove into the box and curled the ball expertly into the corner.

St Patrick's Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; John Mountney, Lee Desmond, Sam Bone, Ian Bermingham; Chris Forrester (Alfie Lewis 80), Robbie Benson, Jamie Lennon; Billy King (Jason McClelland 80),  Matty Smith (Darragh Burns 66), Rónán Coughlan (Nahum Melvin-Lambert 86).

Derry City: Nathan Gartside; Eoin Toal, Cameron McJannet, Danny Lupano; Daniel Lafferty, Ciaron Harkin, Joe Thomson (Ronan Boyce 74), Will Patching, Jack Malone; David Parkhouse (William Fitzgerald 74), James Akintunde (Brendan Barr 61).

Referee: Ben Connolly