Derry City substitute Ciaran Martyn was hailed the hero at a rain drenched Brandywell Stadium as his late strike claimed a crucial victory over St Patrick's Athletic in the League of Ireland Premier Division.
With the Candy Stripes reduced to ten men early in the first half, when Dublin referee Paul Tuite gave stand-in skipper Clive Delaney his marching orders for a second bookable offence, the home side struggled to create any real openings having dominated in the early stages.
And with the game appearing destined for a stalemate with just 11 minutes remaining on the clock, Thomas Stewart headed to the back post where Martyn volleyed into the top corner to seal maximum points and help close the gap on Cork City to just three points with a game in hand.
During the opening stages of a first half that was devoid of any real goal scoring opportunities, there were clear signs of a European hangover from the visitors as Derry started very much in the ascendancy.
The home side certainly dominated possession and the opening chance of the game fell to Ruairdhri Higgins on 10 minutes who sent his rasping effort from 25 yards wide of the target after being set up by Mark Farren.
Derry continued to press forward and they threatened once again five minutes later when Higgins found Gareth McGlynn on the right flank with a pinpoint pass and when the lively winger sent an inviting cross across the face of the St Pat's goalmouth, the onrushing Stewart was unable to get that vital touch and the chance was lost.
Derry then had a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock on 27 minutes as Farren sent a looping cross into the St Pat's penalty area where Stewart managed to peel off the shoulder of Partridge, however he headed just wide of Gary Rogers' goal.
The defining moment of the opening half came on 31 minutes as referee Paul Tuite took centre stage. Having booked Derry City's stand-in skipper Clive Delaney for a foul on Mark Quigley earlier in the half, the Dublin official then produced a second yellow for a deliberate handball as the defender stopped the ball from getting through to Quigley.
Brandywell boss, Stephen Kenny quickly re-organised his defensive formation with McGlynn moving to right-back and Eddie McCallion filling in at centre-half.
The sending off appeared to inspire Kenny's troops as they created what was possibly the best chance of the opening period.
The lively Stewart sent Farren scampering clear with a high ball over the top of the St Pat's defence, however, the striker's powerful shot was palmed behind by Rogers.
The visitors finally began to get into their stride and Declan O'Brien produced their first shot of the match two minutes before the interval, but he sent his shot well wide of the target.
Stephen Kenny was once again forced to reshuffle his defensive pack after the break with makeshift left back James McClean replacing the injured Stephen Gray as O'Brien moved into centre half position.
Derry were on the backfoot at the start of the second half, with the Dubliners forcing two superb saves from keeper Gerard Doherty.
St Pat's substitute Alan Cawley was to have an immediate impact after replacing Gary Demspey at the interval as he tested the Derry keeper with a 25 yard free on the edge of the area on 48 minutes.
The Creggan man was called upon two minutes later when saving Bobby Ryan's close range effort before McClean bravely headed away the danger with O'Brien ready to pounce.
The Inchicore side were taking full advantage of their numerical advantage as Derry struggled to keep possession and with chances now at a premium the winning strike came from the home side's final opportunity of the game.
With the game appearing to peter out with both sides clearly tiring, Kenny introduced Tam McManus into the fray and the Scot immediately created the breakthrough on 79 minutes.
Stewart rose highest to head McManus' cross back across goal and substitute Ciaran Martyn volleyed into the top corner with an emphatic finish to break the deadlock.
Neither side really threatened after that and Derry managed to hold on to secure a crucial victory.