Tenacious Drogheda earn point
DERRY CITY'S hopes of grabbing a place in the UEFA Cup through their league programme were dented by lowly Drogheda United at the Brandywell yesterday. In deed, but for the brilliance of Derry goalkeeper Tony O'Dowd, late in the second half, the Louth side would have won this match.
Drogheda may have struggled for long spells in the first half, but the home side's failure to convert quality opportunities in front of goal cost them dearly in the end.
And even after Derry caught Drogheda cold in the opening seconds of the second half, Jim McLaughlin's side exhibited great tenacity and determination before grabbing their deserved reward in the 68th minute.
Derry should have had a 2-0 cushion at the break but both Gary Beckett and Peter Hutton squandered gilt edged scoring chances.
Hutton, in particular, broke clear in the 33rd minute and when his initial shot was blocked by the advancing John Grace, Harry McCourt played the Derry skipper back in again with the rebound. However, Hutton's shot from six yards stuck the body of central defender Noel Reid on the goal line before the ball was whipped to safety.
Sixty seconds earlier, Beckett was presented with the easiest of opportunities from close range but he failed to get a touch on the ball with the goal at his mercy.
Derry broke the deadlock in the 45th minute following a fluent move up the right flank. Tom Mohan played Paul Doolin into space and when his inswinging cross dropped perfectly into Beckett's path, the 23 year old side footed home his first goal for the Brandywell club.
This spurred Drogheda into action and with Trevor Crolly and Bobby Browne inspirational in midfield, they grabbed their just reward in the 68th minute.
A corner by substitute Michael Harte flew over the head of Pascal Vandequin at the near post and John Ryan's glancing header found the net.