Longford Town 2 Derry City 3
RORY PATTERSON netted twice in the space of two second half minutes to break Longford hearts at the City Calling Stadium and sent Derry City back into third spot.
The club’s leading goalscorer took his season’s tally to 17 strikes with that double when it had looked like bottom club, Longford were on their way to a first home win of the campaign having twice taken the lead.
The win takes Derry two points above Shamrock Rovers in third with European football all but secured for next season.
Longford striker, David O’Sullivan had put the home lot into a 12 minute lead with a close range strike as the City defence looked all at sea.
Barry McNamee equalised six minutes before the interval but Derry conceded a penalty on 63 minutes when Niclas Vemmelund brought Kallem Simon down inside the area. And O’Sullivan, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Tuesday, added his second from the spotkick.
With Derry struggling to get to grips with the game after that, suddenly they turned it on its head with that quickfire Patterson brace to earn a vital win with just three games to go.
Kenny Shiels had made just the one change from the team which lost to Dundalk in the FAI Cup semi-final replay last Tuesday night. Spanish defender, Cristian Castells was handed just his second start of the season in the absence of Conor McDermott who was called up to the N. Ireland U21 squad.
The Derry boss stuck with his attacking 3-5-2 formation with the in-form Ronan Curtis leading the attack with leading scorer, Rory Patterson in support.
Longford made two changes to the team which lost to Bohemians in their last outing with Kaleem Simon and David O’Sullivan coming in at the expense of Kealan Dillon - who dropped to the bench - and the suspended, Eddie Dsane.
It was a scrappy start from both sides but it was Longford who struck the first blow after 12 minutes when Don Cowan drove down the right wing and crossed dangerously towards the six yard line where O’Sullivan, who turned 29 on Tuesday, applied the finish at the near post, poking the ball past the helpless Gerard Doherty.
Derry reacted well and five minutes later Ben Doherty did superbly to find the byline before cutting the ball back into the path of Patterson whose first time shot from 12 yards was deflected behind by Philip Gannon.
Conor McCormack then tried his luck from the resultant short corner 25 yards from goal but his strike took a deflection and went behind for another Derry corner. The Candystripes began to turn the screw and when McCormack found Patterson on 21 minutes, the striker held off the attentions of Pat Flynn but his shot from inside the penalty area went wide of the target.
Aaron McEneff was next to test the reflexes of Ryan Coulter on 27 minutes when he picked up Curtis’ pass on the edge of the box but he failed to hit it cleanly and it was easily gathered by the Longford ‘keeper.
The home side made appeals for a penalty kick on 32 minutes when Cowan’s cross bounced up and appeared to strike Dean Jarvis on the arm inside the Derry 18 yard box but referee, Sean Grant was having none of it.
With 10 minutes to go before the interval, McEneff found McCormack lurking on the edge of the penalty area from a corner kick and his powerful drive went narrowly wide of the upright.
Cowan was causing all sorts of problems for the Derry defence on the right flank and he drove towards goal on 38 minutes before laying it off to Peter McGlynn, but his shot was hit straight into the hands of Doherty.
Derry broke immediately and when Ronan Curtis crossed into the Longford area it took a slight deflection off Flynn and fell kindly into the path of Barry McNamee 15 yards from goal, who had time to take a touch before wrapping his right foot around the ball and it nestled into the net.
Longford probably should have retaken the lead moments later as O’Sullivan found himself one-on-one with Doherty who raced from his line and saved brilliantly just inside his area with his feet as the sides went in level at the break.
Derry created an excellent chance to take the lead 12 minutes after the restart. Patterson flicked the ball over the top of the Longford defence and just as Curtis was about to unleash his shot on the volley, skipper, Conor Powell bravely blocked the ball and the chance was lost.
Longford were awarded a penalty on 62 minutes when Vemmelund tripped Simon inside just inside the box. Up stepped O’Sullivan who neatly tucked away the spotkick to give the home side the lead.
The game was turned on its head as Derry netted twice inside two minutes to take the lead for the first time in the contest.
Patterson slotted into the net from close range after McNamee’s shot was deflected into his path on 76 minutes.
And two minutes later Patterson latched onto substitute, Josh Daniels’ pass and placed his shot into the corner of the net to secure Derry’s first win in eight games.
Longford Town - R. Coulter: J. Mulhall (N. Haverty 87), P. Flynn, Y. Mvita, C. Powell; P. McGlynn (K. Dillon 82), P. Gannon, K. O’Connor, K. Simon; D. Cowan, D. O’Sullivan; Subs Not Used - P. Skinner, R. Gorman, T. Noack-Hofmann, M. Hughes, N. Haverty, G. Makouta.
Derry City - G. Doherty; N. Vemmelund, C. Castells, D. Jarvis; H. Monaghan, C. McCormack (N. Boyle 69), A. McEneff, B. McNamee (K. Ward 89), B. Doherty (J. Daniels 69); R. Patterson, R. Curtis; Subs Not Used - S. Patton, R. Holden, S. Whiteside, M. Karner.
Referee - Sean Grant.