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Derry secure Europa League spot as Junior claims Golden Boot

The Colchester United loanee took his league tally to 14 goals on a memorable night.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe celebrates his first goal.
Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe celebrates his first goal.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

Derry City 4
Finn Harps 0

Simon Collins reports from Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium

JUNIOR OGEDI-UZOKWE bagged a hat-trick against Finn Harps to seal the league’s Golden Boot, as Derry City secured their place in the Europa League in some style at the Brandywell.

The Colchester United loanee took his league tally to 14 goals on a memorable night for the Candystripes as he pipped Dundalk hit-man, Pat Hoban, to the award.

It was the Londoner’s second treble of the season, having put Cork City to the sword at Turner’s Cross back in June.

Derry had needed just a single point in Declan Devine’s 100th league match as manager of his hometown, but they cruised to victory to clinch fourth spot.

Devine had kept faith with the team that lost 3-1 at home to St Pat’s on Tuesday night.

However, his opposite number, Ollie Horgan, made 11 changes from the team that won against Waterford in their last outing, and he clearly had one eye firmly fixed on next Monday night’s crunch relegation-promotion play-off, opting to take in the Drogheda v Cabinteely play-off game instead of watching his own team.

Harps had started the game on the front foot, but for all of their early possession, it was Derry who created the first chance of the match from Jamie McDonagh’s corner. It was floated into the back post and Ally Gilchrist peeled off Keith Cowan, but hit the side netting with his powerful header with 10 on the clock.

The Candystripes began to get a foothold on the match and broke the deadlock on 15 minutes. Barry McNamee carved open the Harps defence with a sublime pass through the middle and Junior ran off Colm Deasy and rolled it into the bottom right corner past the helpless Jamie Bell.

Parkhouse, who was also chasing Hoban for the league’s top goalscorer award, tried his luck from 30 yards and his powerful drive took a deflection off Kieran Farren and whistled just wide of the target.

City doubled their advantage on 24 minutes from a corner kick. Parkhouse’s close-range header was blocked on the line by Harps keeper, Bell, and after a scramble in the six-yard box, Junior got the final touch as the ball was bundled over the line. And with Sligo Rovers taking the lead at Dalymount on 31 minutes, Derry found themselves up into third as the teams went in at the half-time interval.

Finn Harps came out after the break with intent. Liam Walsh had a header on target from Tony McNamee’s cross from the left flank, but Peter Cherrie gathered it comfortably.

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Harps worked their way into the Derry area and Walsh’s strike was charged down and sent behind for a corner, as the Ballybofey men had their tails up.

With Young Player of the Year nominee, Danny Mandroiu, equalising for Bohemians against Sligo on 58 minutes, Derry found themselves slipping back in fourth. And as Hoban found the net for Dundalk at Oriel Park against St Pat’s, Junior found himself neck and neck with the Lilywhites striker in the Golden Boot race.

However, the City frontman completed his second hat-trick of the campaign to go ahead of Hoban on 14 goals when he got in behind the Harps defence on 64 minutes and smashed the ball into the net. It was the second hat-trick in the North West derby this season, as Ciaron Harkin netted a treble back in May.

Junior looked for a fourth from distance, but his low drive from 25 yards was parried over the crossbar by Bell. As Hoban was substituted with 13 minutes to go, Junior was nailed on for the top scorer gong.

And the home side weren’t finished yet, as Ciaran Coll did superbly to cut the ball back into the danger area and when it found Gillespie lurking on the edge of the box, he fired into the bottom corner for his first goal for the club.

It completed a near perfect night for City, who can look forward to playing in Europe in 2020.

DERRY CITY: P Cherrie; G Gillespie, E Toal (M McChrystal, 75), A Gilchrist, C Coll; J Ogedie-Uzokwe, G Sloggett, C Harkin, J McDonagh (A Delap, 68); B McNamee (M McCrudden, 78); D Parkhouse.

FINN HARPS: J Bell; C Deasy, K Cowan (J Smith, HT), N Logue, D O’Reilly; M Place, Shaun Doherty (J Doherty, 78), Steven Doherty, T McNamee, K Farren; L Walsh.

Referee: Derek Tomney.

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Simon Collins

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