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Saints secure win after Clarke's heroics

St. Pat’s have their keeper to thank after leaving Derry with three points.

Brendan Clarke was inspired in the St. Pat's goal tonight.
Brendan Clarke was inspired in the St. Pat's goal tonight.

Derry City 0-1 St. Pat’s

AARON GREENE NETTED the winning goal for St Patrick’s Athletic at Brandywell Stadium but the reigning champions have goalkeeper Brendan Clarke to thank for denying an injury stricken Derry City a point after an impressive second half response.

Greene stunned the Candystripes when taking advantage of a Philip Lowry mistake two minutes into the second half and it was fully deserved lead after the visitors dominated the first half scoring chances.

However, City responded well and Clarke had to be at his best to deny Sean Houston from close range and he tipped Barry McNamee’s free-kick over the crossbar late in the game.

Derry boss Peter Hutton had to reshuffle his pack in the absence of top striker Rory Patterson (back), skipper Cliff Byrne (ligaments), and Danny Ventre (knee), however he was boasted by Patrick McEleney’s timely recovery from a viral infection.

His brother Shane was injured in the warm-up to add to Hutton’s injury woes and the defender was replaced by Sean Houston while Barry Molloy dropped into the centre half position.

The champions, who are vying for third place and a Europa League spot were without the suspended Greg Bolger while former Candystripe, Ger O’Brien returned to the starting line-up.

The Saints made a bright start and Keith Fahy tested the reflexes of Ger Doherty after just two minutes as the midfielder poked the ball towards goal from close range after Dean Jarvis failed to clear and the Derry keeper made an instinctive save to palm away the danger.

Derry struggled in the final third during the opening half hour with Dean Jarvis’ wayward header from a corner kick their first real chance of the game but the Candystripes failed to test Clarke’s goal.

Ian Bermingham tried his luck from distance with a curling strike one minute before the break and Killian Brennan’s free-kick from 35 yards crashed off the upright and went behind right on the stroke of half-time as St Pat’s finished the half in the ascendancy.

And the champions made a blistering start to the second half as Fahy dispossessed Philip Lowry deep in the Derry half before slotting Greene through on goal and the midfielder’s shot took a slight deflection before hitting the roof of the net on 47 minutes.

It was a deserved lead but Derry responded immediately and Barry McNamee was denied by a last gasp block from Sean Hoare within 60 seconds of the opening goal and Stephen Dooley then struck the foot of the post with his well executed half volley inside the Saints penalty area on 50 minutes.

Patrick McEleney skimmed the top of the Saints’ crossbar on 62 minutes with a pile-driver of a strike from 25 yards as Derry continued to press for an equaliser.

Sean Houston was denied by a great point blank save from Clarke with 13 minutes to go after the Letterkenny man was put through on goal following a clever one-two involving McEleney and Michael Duffy on the edge of the area.

McEleney forced another terrific save from Clarke two minutes later as the Saints keeper palmed away the Derry man’s long distance drive and McNamee sent his follow-up shot the wrong side of the post,

Clarke was called upon once again on 86 minutes as he tipped McNamee’s curling free-kick over the crossbar.

Peter Hutton opted to throw caution to the wind as he went to three at the back for the final five minutes but it was to no avail as the Saints held on to that slender lead to move four points behind Cork City.

Derry City: G. Doherty; S. Kelly 6 (N. Boyle 87), R. McBride 7, B. Molloy 6, D. Jarvis 6; S. Dooley 6 (M. Timlin 6, 69), P. Lowry 6, B. McNamee 6, S. Houston 7 (R. Curran 6, 74), M. Duffy 6; P. McEleney 8; Subs Not Used – C. Gallagher; J. Tracey, S. McEleney, A. Barry.

St Pat’s - B. Clarke 8; G. O’Brien 6, S. Hoare 7, K. Browne 8, I. Bermingham 7; C. Byrne 6, K. Fahy 7 (J. Chambers 6, 83), K. Brennan 6, C. McCormack 6, A. Greene 7; M. Quigley 6; Subs Not Used – P. Jennings, C. Fagan, L. Fitzgerald, K. Oman, C. Forrester, S. Verdon.

Referee - Padraig Sutton (Clare)

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Simon Collins

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