Derry’s Adam O’Reilly celebrates scoring. Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Derry close in on leaders Bohs after beating Drogheda

Adam O’Reilly was the matchwinner with his first goal for the Candystripes.

Drogheda 0

Derry City 1

Barry Landy reports from United Park

DERRY CITY moved to within just three points of the Premier Division summit courtesy of Adam O’Reilly’s first goal for the club — but they were made to work for victory at Weavers Park.

It will come as no surprise to Ruaidhri Higgins’ men that Drogheda United proved obdurate, and dangerous, opponents. His team arrived on Boyneside having failed to beat them in four attempts.

They managed it this time however and coupled with Shamrock Rovers’ defeat of Bohemians, they remain in third position but poised with the top spot in sight.

O’Reilly’s goal arrived just 12 minutes into the encounter. A superb move involving Ryan Graydon, Ciaran Coll — playing in an unfamiliar right-back role — and Sadou Diallo ended when the effective Jordan McEneff backheeled to O’Reilly on the edge of the area.

The 21-year-old’s low shot beat the goalkeeper and nestled in the bottom corner of the net. It was just a third career goal for the Cork-born midfielder, signed in the close season from Preston North End.

McEneff was almost the provider again minutes later but Cian Kavanagh’s firm header was off-target.

After an underwhelming opening, the hosts grew into the game and eventually chances came their way. The best of which saw Dayle Rooney, the excellent Darragh Markey and Ryan Brennan combine to send Draper in behind the City defence. He beat Maher but not the crossbar with an attempted dink finish.

O’Reilly and Diallo had shots blocked and saved respectively as Derry remained a threat on either side of the half-time interval.

Kevin Doherty will rue the loss of two key defenders to injury — Elicha Ahui and Conor Keeley were both withdrawn — but Derry couldn’t capitalise on Drogheda’s uncertainty and unfamiliarity at the back.

The home side looked more likely to find an equaliser than Derry did to end the game as a contest, despite a number of attack-minded changes.

Maher made a stunning stop to deny Draper, who should have scored with a close-range header. He would have but not for the intervention of the Republic of Ireland U21 goalkeeper.

Drogheda United: Colin McCabe; Elicha Ahui (Luke Heeney, 21), Emmanuel Adegboyega, Conor Keeley (Warren Davis, 75), Aaron McNally; Ryan Brennan, Gary Deegan; Dylan Grimes (Adam Foley, 62), Darragh Markey, Dayle Rooney; Freddie Draper.

Derry City: Brian Maher; Ciaran Coll, Shane McEleney, Cameron McJannet, Ben Doherty; Sadou Diallo, Adam O’Reilly, Jordan McEneff (Will Patching, 64); Ryan Graydon (Ollie O’Neill, 74), Cian Kavanagh (Jamie McGonigle, 75), Michael Duffy (Ronan Boyce, 89).

Referee: Damien MacGraith

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