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Elastic Banda: Substitute proves crucial as Harps take bragging rights in derby with Derry
The attacker came off the bench early in the first-half and grabbed the opening goal.

Derry City 0

Finn Harps 2

BJ BANDA CAME off the bench to hand Finn Harps a precious victory over their north west rivals Derry City at Maginn Park.

The striker came on as an enforced change for Ollie Horgan’s men when replacing the injured Johnny Bonner early in the first half. And he broke City hearts on the stroke of half-time when he turned superbly before his shot deflected off the foot of Scott Whiteside and looped over the head of Gerard Doherty.

It was a real sucker punch for City who should have been ahead but for wasted chances from both Ronan Curtis and Mikhail Kennedy.

Another sub, Michael Funston, then added a second with eight minutes to go to get Harps back on the winning trail.

Derry boss, Kenny Shiels had said before the game, Harps had the upper hand given their vast experience and, having now taken eight points from the last three derby clashes, who’s to argue?

Michael Funston Morgan Treacy; ©INPHO / Morgan Treacy/INPHO Michael Funston, seen here in action against Dundalk, was also on the scoresheet. Morgan Treacy; ©INPHO / Morgan Treacy/INPHO / Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Both teams had come into the game on the back of successive defeats and Derry made two changes from the team which lost to Cork, with Nathan Boyle and Harry Monaghan making way for Josh Daniels and Scott Whiteside.

Harps, meanwhile, were unchanged from the team which lost to the champions, Dundalk last weekend.

Harps had the first shot on target on 14 minutes when Caolan McAleer dispossessed Conor McDermott and curled his shot safely into the hands of Gerard Doherty.

Almost immediately Derry almost capitalised on a ball played over the top of the Harps defence by Mikhail Kennedy. And when Ciaran Coll lost his footing, Curtis was clean through on goal but from a tight angle he tamely shot into the side netting.

Ex City star, Paddy McCourt picked up a loose clearance from McDermott on the edge of the penalty area but he screwed his low strike just wide o the target on 19 minutes.

Dean Jarvis then tested Ciaran Gallagher from distance with a well struck effort but it was saved comfortably.

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Derry broke quickly through Aaron McEneff and when the midfielder cut the ball back to Curtis, the City striker scuffed his shot and Gallagher cleaned up the danger.

Six minutes from the interval Curtis controlled the ball superbly on his chest before playing Kennedy through on goal. The striker had time and space and with support arriving into the penalty area he attempted to find the near post but hit the side netting.

McEneff’s curling strike from 20 yards was then palmed over the crossbar by Gallagher moments later as the Candystripes finished strongly.

On the stroke of half-time substitute, Banda turned his man 20 yards from goal and his deflected shot looped over the head of Doherty and into the net.

Kenny Shiels Ryan Byrne; ©INPHO / Ryan Byrne/INPHO It was a frustrating night for Derry City boss Kenny Shiels. Ryan Byrne; ©INPHO / Ryan Byrne/INPHO / Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was a cruel blow for City who really should’ve taken the lead into the interval.

The expected onslaught from the home side failed to materialise at the start of the second half as Harps continued to frustrate.

Harps could have doubled their lead with 10 minutes to go when Barry was dispossessed by the lively Banda who forced a good save from Doherty at full stretch.

And Banda was causing problems again on 82 minutes when his strike was parried into the path of substitute, Funston by Doherty and the experienced Harps man poked it into the corner of the net to seal the points.

Derry City: G. Doherty; C. McDermott, A. Barry, S. Whiteside, D. Jarvis; L. Schubert (M. Timlin 55), N. Low, A. McEneff, J. Daniels (B. Doherty 78); M. Kennedy (N. Boyle 55), R. Curtis; Subs Not Used – E. Grimes, H. Monaghan,A. Delap, S. Todd.

Finn Harps: C. Gallagher; D. McNulty, K. Cantwell, C. Coll; B. Molloy, J. Bonner (BJ Banda 22);  E. Boyle, P. McCourt (M. Funston 57), G. Harkin; C. McAleer, S. Houston; Subs Not Used – H. Doherty, P. Mailey, M. Funston, T. McMonagle, G. Doherty, S. McGlynn.

Referee: Ray Matthews (Dublin)

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