Derry City stretch six points clear at the top of Premier Division

Two late goals secure the points for the Candystripes against bottom side UCD

UCD 0 Derry City 2

Top versus bottom of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division took a while to arrive at its predicted destination. Derry City controlled possession, creating the better chances, but they needed a moment of dead-ball inspiration from Will Patching to push six points clear of Shamrock Rovers.

Ronan Boyce played the wing back role to perfection, scoring Derry's second at the back post, when their fully amateur hosts finally began to wilt.

The friendly atmosphere created by student life on Belfield campus can be deceiving. The Bowl creates its own particular challenge underfoot, with a bobbling rugby surface contributing to some early misses by a Derry side displaying all the intent of title contenders, yet none of the accuracy.

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Even when Matty Smith and Cameron Dummigan hit the target, UCD goalkeeper Lorcan Healy made two fine first-half saves. Dummigan's vicious shot would have been worth the six-hour round trip for loyal Candystripers if not for Healy's acrobatic touch on to the post.

That initiated an odd period of Derry dominance when Jamie McGonigle somehow managed to miss the target. Chasing his fifth goal of the season, McGonigle scuffed the finish, which appeared to hit a divot and roll wide.

Liam Kerrigan's pace contributed to the entertainment as he always gives UCD the chance of a spectacular break or assist for the still scoreless Colm Whelan. They need to click soon.

The UCD front man is 833 minutes without a league goal, dating back to the penalty that felled Cork City last October, which brought his First Division total to 18 for the season.

Less space in the Premier Division. Whelan's goal drought coincides with Mipo Odubeko muscling him out of Jim Crawford's Republic of Ireland under-21 side. He did have an opportunity to create a lasting memory on a Monday night in April when Ireland team-mate Brian Maher was caught 60 metres from goal. Whelan knew the Derry goalkeeper was in no-man's land but after some skilful juggling the launched attempt went miles off target.

Kerrigan and Whelan continued to link well but another recent Irish under-21 was threatening to outdo everyone, with Brandon Kavanagh lively in pockets behind McGonigle. The game was creeping towards an inexplicable result when Kavanagh's excellent hit bounced off the crossbar but by the interval Derry had turned the fixture into shooting practice.

Clearly, they needed the session.

There was a brief lifting of the siege when Whelan flashed a ball across the face of Maher’s goal but the second half quickly settled into the ancient battle of patience versus discipline, as the league leaders slowly squeezed the basement side into submission.

If professional, UCD's back three of Evan Osam, Eric Yoro and Sam Todd would have earned their weekly salary. Same goes for all of Andy Myler's men.

Patrick McEleney forced another brilliant save from Healy but the chances dried up until Eoin Toal’s header bounced into the net, only for the linesman’s flag to disallow the goal.

It took 67 minutes for Patching’s expertise from a free-kick to settle the visitor’s nerves. Dominant all night, Ruaidhrí Higgins’s charges made heavy work of a UCD outfit that might not be destined for relegation if Kerrigan and Whelan can transform all that ability into goals.

Boyce’s neat finish guaranteed Derry’s cushion, which could expand to nine points if Shelbourne beat Rovers on Friday night at Tolka Park, as the title race begins to develop a competitive feel.

UCD: Healy; Yoro, Todd, Osam; Gallagher, Keaney, Verdon (Caffrey, 60 mins), Ryan; Kerrigan, Brennan (Duffy, 72 mins); Whelan (Gill, 83 mins).

DERRY CITY: Maher; S McEleney (Thompson, 74 mins), Toal, McJannett; Boyce, P McEleney, Smith (Akintunde, 70 mins) , Dummingan; Kavanagh (Malone, 84 mins), Patching (McLaughlin, 84 mins); McGonigle.

Referee: Kevin O'Sullivan.