DERRY returned to the top of the eircom League premier division with a deserved win over St Patrick's Athletic at the Brandywell last night.
Their 22nd victory of the campaign means that Derry now need only a draw in their final game against Cork City at Turner's Cross on Friday to clinch the title.
City failed to impress in the opening quarter but Ciarán Martyn provided the spark to put them on the road to winning all three points on 28 minutes when he embarked on a tremendous run, ghosting past five players before being tackled by John Frost.
From the resulting corner Clive Delaney headed the ball across the face of goal, where captain Peter Hutton rushed in to force it home from close range.
Seven minutes later City doubled their advantage as Delaney climbed to head in a Kevin Deery corner for his first league goal of the season.
Alan Reilly struck the woodwork for St Pat's with a superb effort just after the break while at the other end Pat McCourt was denied by alert visiting goalkeeper Brendan Clarke.
The battling Saints played the better football in the closing stages but were unable to score and so Stephen Kenny's City slickers are now one point clear of Cork.