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Resilient second half fightback earns St Pat's a first league win in two months

Liam Buckley’s side rise out of the relegation zone and into ninth place with just a third home win this season.

Kurtis Byrne brought the scores level with a second half penalty.
Kurtis Byrne brought the scores level with a second half penalty.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 2

Derry City 1

Aaron Gallagher reports from Richmond Park

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC earned their first win in nine games and just a third victory at Richmond Park this season on Friday night.

In a dramatic game of twists and turns they managed to turn a one goal deficit into an inspired 2-1 victory against an ill-fated Derry City who threw the game away in the second half.

The win against a top five side may prove crucial at the latter stages of the season as the Saints continue their battle to avoid a first ever relegation in the club’s history. It moves Liam Buckley’s side outside the bottom three and into the relative safety of ninth place for another week at least.

Kenny Shiels’ side will be bitterly disappointed with the loss, however, following a 4-0 win versus Sligo Rovers last weekend. The Candystripes headed into the half-time interval in the ascendency with Ronan Curtis’ fine header sending them on the path to what seemed like back-to-back wins following their exit from Europe.

Conan Byrne and Ben Doherty Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

While St Pat’s went into the break behind and downtrodden they had their chances in the opening 45 minutes and did not play like a side battling the drop in this game.

Had a bit more luck, a referee’s decision and more potency in front of goal gone their way, St Pat’s would have won this game at a canter.

Christy Fagan was in the thick of the action and a neat lay-off from Kurtis Byrne presented a golden opportunities for the number nine to grab his first goal in five games and take the lead. Letting the ball roll across his body all he could do is find the side-netting.

Another golden opportunity came Graham Kelly’s way when a free header was on the cards three yards out from goal. But all the 25-year-old could manage was a tame effort right at goalkeeper Ger Doherty who kept all chances at bay in a fine first half display.

But like the story of their season thus far despite their positive early charges St Pat’s found themselves behind three minutes before the break when an inswinging Nicky Low corner found Ronan Curtis rising highest.

Liam Buckley watches on Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The striker lingered in the air before forcing a fine header into the top corner, the ball lingering mid-air for what seemed like an eternity, before dropping beneath the crossbar and beyond the outstretched arm of Conor O’Malley for Curtis’ sixth goal of the season.

A bad start got worse for St Pat’s in the second half when Killian Brennan limped off holding his hamstring on his home debut, having signed for the club after departing Drogheda United at the start of the month.

But they did not lay down and knew if they could convert the level of chances they made in the opening forty five minutes they could still get something from this game.

Striker Fagan performed valiantly in the first half and did everything bar put the ball into the net. Another chance came his way with half an hour remaining after Kurtis Byrne evaded all challenges inside the Derry penalty area.

The ball fell on a plate to Fagan but his deflected effort which rode underneath goalkeeper Doherty was dramatically cleared off the line.

St Pat’s simply could not catch a break as they upped the ante on a Derry side which was looking vulnerable and pinned into their own box as they endured wave after wave of attack from Liam Buckley’s re-energized side.

Michael Barker and Ronan Curtis Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Rory Feely was the player who replaced Brennan in the second half and it was the 20-year-old defender who was fouled earning St Pat’s a penalty. Kurtis Byrne stood up to the plate and slotted the ball beyond Doherty into the top corner to level the scores at 1-1.

It was all St Pat’s now as the fans and players alike found the inspiration they needed to go on and grab their win first since beating Drogheda United back in May. With the atmosphere building and Derry retreating St Pat’s went for the full three points and were duly rewarded.

A long ball from Feely saw Conan Byrne take the ball down expertly before crossing into the box. Graham Kelly charged in to crash the ball off the turf and into an empty net to make it 2-1 with 13 minutes left on the clock.

A nervy ending followed as Derry flexed their muscles and appeared unwilling to accept the face of defeat. Kenny Shiels urged his side on but they could not find a second as St Pat’s weathered the storm and earned a first league win in two months.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Conor O’Malley, Michael Barker, Lee Desmond, Jordi Balk, Ian Bermingham, Graham Kelly, Killian Brennan (Rory Feel 56), Conan Byrne, Billy Dennehy, Kurtis Byrne (Darragh Markey 83), Christy Fagan (Josh O’Hanlon 91)

DERRY CITY: Ger Doherty, Dean Jarvis, Nicky Low, Harry Monaghan, Darren Cole, Ben Doherty (Rory Holden 68), Lukas Schubert (Nathan Boyle 73), Barry McNamee, Aaron McEneff, Ronan Curtis (Josh Daniels 83), Rory Patterson

Referee: Rob Rodgers

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