Paddy McCourt of Finn Harps in action on Friday night. Photo: Stephen Doherty.
Drogheda United leapfrogged Finn Harps into seventh in the Premier Division table after they took the points in Friday night’s clash at Finn Park.
Finn Harps . . . 0
Drogheda United . . . 2
The Co. Louth outfit led at half-time thanks to Adam Wixted’s opener on 29 minutes and they were good value for their lead.
Harps had struggled to impose themselves on the game during the first half but were so much better after the break.
However, once Drogheda scored their second on 79 when Gavin Brennan found the net, there was to be no way back for Ollie Horgan’s side.
It means a fifth defeat in the league for Harps and after the great win over Derry City last week, it was a disappointing result.
Harps might be having to contend with a long list of injuries at present, but Horgan was still able to name a strong and experienced starting eleven with Paddy McCourt, Barry Molloy and Gareth Harkin all included.
That said, the home team took a long time to settle and it was Drogheda who had the game’s opening chance in the first minute when Wixted steered the ball just over after Stephen Elliott’s initial effort was half charged down.
It was an early warning sign for Harps and twice Gareth McCaffrey threatened an opening before Wixted eventually headed them in front on 29 minutes. Elliott was able to find enough room to deliver from wide on the left and Wixted’s wonderful header found the bottom corner.
Given Drogheda’s more inventive approach in the first half, the goal was fully deserved.
Harps offered little in the way of ideas or threat in attack, and the absence in the side of a recognised striker was all too evident.
They dropped Sean Houston back into a more central role as half time approached, leaving Caolan McAleer on his own up front. But still Drogheda pressed and they were close to a second on 37 when a Sean Thornton free was met by Brennan’s diving header but fortunately for Harps, the ball drifted just over the bar.
McAleer tried his luck from distance and his effort bent wide of the target with keeper Stephen McGuinness beaten.
Drogheda had an early shout for a penalty in the second half when Elliott went down under the challenge of Barry Molloy. And within seconds, Sean Houston was played in at the other end only to hammer the ball wide from a good position.
Then just before the hour, Harps squandered another good opportunity when McCourt’s run and pass picked out Michael Funston but from close in, his first time effort went up and over the bar.
It was his last action of the contest before he was replaced by Eddie Dsane.
At this stage, Harps were on top and another wonderful run and defence-splitting pass from McCourt released McAleer, but again, his effort went just wide.
For all their effort and improvement in the second half, Harps couldn’t find an equaliser and Drogheda struck for their second on 79 when Wixted’s cross from the right was turned home by Brennan.
It was the goal Drogheda needed to ensure they would leave with all three points.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Damien McNulty, Gareth Harkin, Ciaran Coll, Killian Cantwell, Barry Molloy, Michael Funston (Eddie Dsane 62), Paddy McCourt (Simon McGlynn 79), Ethan Boyle, Sean Houston, Caolan McAleer.
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness, Colm Deasy, Conor Kane, Luke Gallagher, Ciaran McGuigan, Adam Wixted (Shane Elworthy 91), Richie Purdy, Sean Thornton, Gareth McCaffrey (Ryan McEvoy 90), Stephen Elliott (Marc Griffin 75), Gavin Brennan.
Referee: Rob Harvey.