St Francis’ Gavin Doyle was in scoring form and his second-half strike was the difference between the sides at John Hyland Park

GAVIN Doyle’s goal four minutes into the second half proved the difference as the derby day spoils went to St Francis last Friday night, keeping them very much in touch in the LSL Sunday Senior One title race.

He fired home from a narrow angle to grab back an initiative the Saints should have built on, but ultimately was enough despite a string of late Dublin Bus free-kicks in dangerous areas.

It keeps St Francis in fourth place, five points off top, while Bus ended the night in sixth place, four points further back.

They were on the back foot for much of the opening phases. Anthony Shortt’s darting runs down the right almost opened the door for Doyle from the best of the early exchanges.

The hosts hit the front in the 23rd minute from an excellent pitch-length move. Craig Gardner’s tackle started it, winning the ball in the right corner before getting to his feet quickly and giving Shortt the ball in a position to charge forward.

Hugging the right sideline, he floated over a delicious cross just Stuart Maher’s head for Gerard O’Gorman to thump home.

These were shaky times for the visitors from the other side of Clondalkin but, as the game developed a niggly, scrappy edge, they started to win free-kicks in good positions.

Garreth Kenna’s delivery was spot on and it caused all manner of problems. Sean Nolan flicked one over while Dean Brennan covered superbly to hoick the ball off the line after Sean Maher had picked up a rebound close in.

It came just moments before Nolan got the sides level on the stroke of half-time. A corner was only half-cleared and it fell invitingly for the centre-half 30-yards out and he took a punt, launching the ball perfectly over Stephen Morris, skimming the underside of the bar en route.

But it took just four minutes for St Francis to reassert their lead as they started the second half in the ascendancy. This time, the ball was worked out to Doyle alone on the right hand side of the box and he duly smacked home.

From there, they had two great chances to extend the lead as Shortt headed wide from Paul Dowling’s cross while Jordan Gardner could not find the trajectory to lob Farrelly who was caught well off his line.

Without the insurance goal, Bus kept plugging away and forced the best from Dowling and Craig Gardner to keep them at bay as Graham Doyle proved a strong influence off the bench.

Indeed, Dowling charged down a last second free-kick to close out the game and the three hard won points.