DERRY CITY: Late Kelly strike sinks City at Richmond Park

Christy Fagan of St Patrick's Athletic in action against Darren Cole of Derry City during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between St Patrick's Athletic and Derry City at Richmond Park in Dublin
Christy Fagan of St Patrick's Athletic in action against Darren Cole of Derry City during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between St Patrick's Athletic and Derry City at Richmond Park in Dublin

St Patrick's Ath 2, Derry City 1

DERRY CITY failed to make ground in the race for Europe as a spirited St Patrick's Athletic bounced back to clinch their first win in eight attempts at Richmond Park.

Ronan Curtis celebrates giving Derry City a first half lead against St Pat's at Richmond Park.

Ronan Curtis celebrates giving Derry City a first half lead against St Pat's at Richmond Park.

Ronan Curtis gave City a timely lead with his fifth goal in seven games two minutes before half-time in an action-packed encounter.

Dublin referee, Rob Rogers then awarded the home side a penalty on 68 minutes, punishing Darren Cole for a foul on Rory Feely and Kurtis Byrne blasted in from the spotkick.

And with 13 minutes left on the clock dangerman, Conan Byrne found Graham Kelly 12 yards from goal and his deflected strike found the back of the net to secure a much needed win for Liam Buckley's men.

The defeat, Derry's third in their last four league games, leaves Kenny Shiels' men one point behind fourth placed Shamrock Rovers - an opportunity missed for the Foylesiders!

Derry were unchanged from the team which started in the 4-0 demolition of Sligo Rovers last Sunday as the injured Aaron Barry and Conor McDermott both remained sidelined.

The Saints made two changes to the team which lost to Cork City with Kurtis Byrne and Billy Dennehy replacing the suspended Owen Garvan and J.J. Lunney who dropped to the bench.

Former Candy Stripe and St Pat's new signing, Killian Brennan was handed his second start since returning to the club while fellow new recruit, Jordi Balk also retained his place.

The Saints made a blistering start to the match and on five minutes Billy Dennehy rolled the ball towards the near post but Ian Bermingham's scuffed shot was put behind by Aaron McEneff.

From the resultant corner, Conan Byrne delivered to the unmarked Kurtis Byrne on the edge of the box and his 25 yard strike on the half volley dipped narrowly over the Derry crossbar.

It was a bright start from the hosts and Conan Byrne was causing all sorts of problems on the right flank.

The winger raced past Ben Doherty before crossing low into the six yard area but Christy Fagan failed to get a touch before Harry Monaghan cleared the danger.

From Brennan's corner Lee Desmond climbed highest but headed the wrong side of the back post.

Ronan Curtis side-footed a free-kick from 30 yards harmlessly wide of the Pat's goal on 15 minutes after the City attacker was fouled by Brennan.

Derry were riding their luck and Pat's really should've hit the front on 19 minutes when Bermingham's cross was flicked on at the near post by Fagan and Graham Kelly headed straight into the arms of Gerard Doherty from close range.

Barry McNamee then chased down a Patterson pass and won the race to the ball with Pat's keeper, Conor O'Malley but his shot, which looked to be going just wide of post, was cleared by Michael Barker who was taking no chances.

And on 25 minutes Patterson again found McNamee, this time on the left wing, with a searching pass but the Ramelton man dragged his shot across goal and wide.

Patterson did well to turn Desmond when he received the ball to feet from Nicky Low on the edge of the box but his shot was saved comfortably by O'Malley as City stepped it up a gear.

Saints striker, Fagan came so close to hitting the net when played in behind the Derry defence by Kurtis Byrne but his powerful effort went just wide on 33 minutes.

There was controversy 10 minutes from the interval when Fagan nipped in front of Darren Cole and raced towards goal but just as he was set to bear down on the net, the Scot executed a timely tackle to send the ball behind.

Brennan then went down on the penalty spot under the challenge of Doherty who came to clear the resultant corner kick but referee, Rob Rogers ignored hopeful calls for a penalty.

Aaron McEneff then tested O'Malley's reflexes on 40 minutes when he latched onto Patterson's knockdown but the Saints keeper pushed it away at full stretch.

Moments later Schubert cut the ball back into path of McEneff and his well struck effort was parried onto the underside of the crossbar by the Pat's keeper.

Then came the breakthrough as Low floated a corner into the area and Curtis rose to send his looping header into the net to give City an unlikely lead two minutes before the break.

Derry were in control for the opening 15 minutes of the second half but from a quick counter Saints were somehow denied an equaliser.

The hosts worked the ball into the Derry area an when it eventually fell to Fagan whose shot was blocked on the line by Cole. However, the Scotsman's clearance deflected off Dean Jarvis and Doherty did brilliantly to palm the ball clear.

St Pat's were back on terms on 68 minutes when the referee awarded a penalty when Cole appeared to foul Feely. Up stepped Kurtis Byrne who blasted the spotkick into the top corner.

And the Dubliners took the lead on 77 minutes when Feely found Conan Byrne who skipped past McNamee and found Kelly whose deflected shot found the net.

Derry tried in vain for an equaliser but couldn't unlock the Saints defence as Buckley's men held on for a precious victory.

St Patrick's Athletic: Conor O'Malley; M. Barker, Jordi Balk, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Billy Dennehy, Graham Kelly, Killian Brennan (Rory Feely 56), Conan Byrne; Kurtis Byrne (Darragh Markey 83); Christy Fagan (Josh O'Hanlon 90); Subs Not Used - B. Murphy, J.J. Lunney, S. Grogan, A. O'Hanlon.

Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Harry Monaghan, Darren Cole, Dean Jarvis, Ben Doherty (Rory Holden 68); Lukas Schubert (Nathan Boyle 72), Aaron McEneff, Nicky Low, Ronan Curtis (Josh Daniels 83); Barry McNamee; Rory Patterson; Subs not Used - E. Grimes, M. Timlin, S. Whiteside, E. Toal.

Referee - Rob Rogers (Dublin)