David Wilson reports from Head In the Game Park
Derby games are often decided by a moment of brilliance or a mistake. An excellent Michael Duffy delivery wasn’t dealt with by the Drogheda defence as Daniel Cleary bundled the ball home to give the Lilywhites a massive three points to take back up the M1.
This was Drogheda’s last home game of the season as both sides battled for Europe and the avoidance of a possible promotion relegation play-off.
A raucous crowd packed into Head in the Game Park and were treated to a cagey but intriguing opening 45 minutes.
Dundalk had the slight upper hand in possession, with Sam Stanton and Will Patching dictating proceedings from the back of midfield but chances were few and far between.
It was Drogheda who had the ball in the net first in the 32nd minute. A Ronan Murray corner was adjudged to have gone out of play before coming back in before being met by the head of Dan O’Reilly who powered a header beyond Peter Cherrie, but the referee already had his arm raised.
Just six minutes later Dundalk had the ball in the net too. Duffy floated a free kick right on to the head of Andy Boyle who nodded straight into the far corner. The referee blew his whistle before the ball hit the net as the Irish international was deemed to have fouled ex-teammate Dane Massey.
Dundalk stroked the ball around well at times but couldn’t find Patrick Hoban or Duffy as the back three of Drogheda marshalled them well.
Darragh Markey was the pick of the bunch for United in the first half as he kept winning the ball in second phases but failed to create anything of note.
The second half began with the home side in the ascendency. James Brown combined with Markey on a one-two once more and crossed for Mark Doyle who couldn’t muster a shot on target just four minutes into the half.
From then Dundalk took control of the game without creating too many goalscoring opportunities.
In the 51st minute, Patching had a go from all of 35 yards that dipped and swerved all over the place. David Odumosu mishandled it and the ball hit the bar and then back into the grateful arms of the Drogheda shot stopper. It was a heart in mouth moment for the home team.
On the hour mark Dundalk had claims of a penalty as the ball looked to have struck a Drogheda hand before rebounding onto the bar and over.
Three minutes later somehow the ball didn’t end up in the Drogheda net as Cleary, Dan Kelly and Hoban couldn’t divert home.
Dundalk continued to push forward and were finally rewarded as a wicked Duffy free kick was saved by Odumosu only for Cleary to bundle home at the back stick to send the away fans home with the bragging rights.
The Lilywhites are now six points ahead of ninth placed Finn Harps.
Tim Clancy’s side hung on for a point in Finn Park last Monday and this result now leaves them five ahead of the Ballybofey side.
Drogheda continue their slog of games away to Bohemians on Sunday, while Dundalk play host to Longford Town.
Drogheda United: David Odumosu; Joe Redmond, Dan O’Reilly, Dane Massey; James Brown (C), Gary Deegan, Killian Phillips, Conor Kane; Mark Doyle, Darragh Markey (Dinny Corcoran 87); Ronan Murray (Chris Lyons 64)
Subs not used: Colin McCabe (GK), Kaleem Simon, Luke Heeney, Jordan Adeyemo, James Clarke, Ahu Obhakhan, Mohammed Boudiaf
Boooked: Killian Phillips 85
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Cameron Dummigan, Dan Cleary, Andy Boyle (C), Darragh Leahy; Sam Stanton, Will Patching; Sean Murray (Sonni Nattestad 90 +1), Daniel Kelly (Sami Ben Amar 90), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 83)
Subs not used: Alessio Abibi (GK), Cameron Yates (GK), Mayowa Animasahun, Mark Hanratty, Ryan O'Kane, Han Jeongwoo
Referee: Rob Harvey
Extratime.com Player of the match: Will Patching (Dundalk)