Derry City cut the gap to third place with a complete win over Longford
JUNIOR Ogedi-Uzowke produced the perfect response to racist trolls online who sent his vile messages online as he sealed a complete victory over Longford Town in Brandywell.
Derry City supporters displayed a large banner that read “Love Junior, hate racism” in support of the forward and he put the icing on the cake of an impressive home win.
The victory narrowed the lead over the third-placed Sligo Rovers to just three points and extended Derry’s league unbeaten streak to seven games.
For the second game in a row, all three Derry forwards are on the scoresheet as Brandywell’s side continue to gain momentum in the race for European qualification.
As for Longford, the Midlanders find themselves 17 points behind at the bottom of the table.
Before the start of the game there was a minute of applause for the late former Derry midfielder Kevin ‘Crack’ McKeever, who won the League Cup with the Brandywell club in 1994, who was laid to rest this morning.
Ruaidhri Higgins made four changes to the squad which drew 3-3 with the Bohemians on Monday night. Cameron McJannet and Danny Lafferty both returned from suspension while Will Fitzgerald and Bastien Hery returned to the starting XI. Ciaran Coll, Evan McLaughlin, Jack Malone and Darren Cole, meanwhile, all fell on a seemingly solid bench.
Derry forced a corner after two minutes and Hery McJannet’s delivery aimed his header narrowly off the target.
Hery found himself in space at the edge of Longford’s penalty area 18 yards six minutes later but when AKintunde rolled him in his way, the Malagasy international missed his shot aside.
Junior stormed Fitzgerald to the right with a sought after pass and the winger did well to keep his balance under pressure but clipped his shot over the bar.
Derry broke the deadlock in the 16th minute when Toal’s long ball was thrown by Junior and as Longford defender Joseph Manley hesitated, McGonigle took advantage as he scuttled to goal and clinically found the corner most away from the net for his fourth goal of the season.
From Fitzgerald’s corner kick, town skipper Toal took off unmarked at the back post and his downhead was turned onto the post by Lee Steacy bounced off the post before Longford finally knocked out the danger.
Dylan Grimes wreaked havoc in Derry’s defense with a formidable wide free kick to the left forcing Nathan Gartside to come in with his fist.
Moments later, Darragh Nugent tried his luck from a distance, but was comfortably saved by Gartside as the visitors took advantage of a promising spell.
However, Derry doubled his advantage just before the half hour mark when Fitzgerald placed the ball in Akintunde’s path and his 20-yard strike took a bad deflection on Steacy’s wrong foot as he nestles in the corner. .
Junior’s ambitious 35-yard free-kick was knocked down by Steacy, but the ball somehow slipped through McGonigle who had bet on the second ball.
The home side hit Longford on the clock in the final 60 seconds of half-time as Hery played McGonigle but the striker’s side-footed strike bounced off the wrong end of the far post.
Derry should have been further ahead four minutes into the second half, but Steacy made a superb point-blank save to prevent Junior who directed Fitzgerald’s cross towards goal.
Nugent missed an opportunity to cut the deficit in the 54th minute when he ignored McJannet’s challenge, rounded him from the advancing Gartside but shot away from the target at a tight angle.
Derry secured the win when Steacy parried Lafferty’s volley into Junior’s path who lifted him over the goaltender’s head and into the net.
It sealed the perfect night for the Candystripes, easing the pain of that heart-wrenching draw at Dalymount Park on Monday night.