I was speaking to some Aberystwyth Town supporters the day before Derry City’s Europa League qualifying round tie at Brandywell Stadium last Thursday and I was somewhat taken back by their confidence.
They told me they had Derry City watched and felt they would at least share the spoils at Brandywell. Of course that’s not how it worked out but those who dismissed the Welsh side as a ‘good pub side’ do a disservice to both the Derry City players and Aberystwyth.
The Welsh side, remember, are in pre-season training mode which is a big disadvantage against a team like Derry who are mid-season.
Also in any European game the first 30 minutes are vital, particularly for the away side.
During this critical period the visitors fell behind to an excellent individual goal from Patrick McEleney on 14 minutes; conceded a second from the penalty spot 10 minutes later and had their goalkeeper, Michael Lewis sent off for a professional foul on Rory Patterson.
After this the game was over as a contest, making it difficult to assess Aberystwyth’s potential as the home side could have scored six or seven in a totally dominant display.
Aberystwyth manager, Ian Hughes was furious with the referee’s decision to send off his goalkeeper and felt Derry City weren’t any better than his side until they went down to 10 men.
“Eleven against 11, I don’t think Derry are better than us,” he said. “The decision which resulted in us being down to 10 men was disappointing and obviously put the game to bed. “I’m actually extremely disappointed,” he added.
Of course Derry City are now massive favourites to go through to the second round against Belarusian side FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk, barring a disaster, but let’s remember what over confidence did to our Welsh visitors and not repeat their mistake.