DERRY CITY . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
UCD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
THE boos which greeted the sounding of the final whistle at the Brandywell on Friday night, told its own story.
Derry boss, Roddy Collins, now under pressure having failed to defeat a youthful and enthusiastic UCD side which, in truth, could have secured a 3-1 victory on the night.
Therefore, Collins’ decision not to select last year’s top League of Ireland hitman, Rory Patterson, appeared to have backfired, the striker banished to the wilds of Co. Donegal to play with the club’s Reserve team.
There’s no doubt that UCD will feel hard done-by having cut through the Derry defence with ease during the latter stages of the second half, yet for all their honest endeavour, they failed to take advantage of several one-on-one clear-cut scoring opportunities.
Now considered the draw specialists of the Premier Division having shared the spoils in no fewer than six of their 10 opening games, the Brandywell boss will surely be searching for answers in what has developed into an inconsistent opening to his Derry City tenure.
Patterson, Derry’s recognised penalty king, would have instantly grabbed possession of the ball in the 10th minute after Patrick McEleney had been clearly tripped inside the penalty area by UCD’s James Kavanagh.
However, in his absence McEleney took full responsibility having dusted himself down, but he was denied due to the brilliance of young Conor O’Donnell, the Buncrana born UCD goalkeeper, who superbly touched the ball over his crossbar.
Indeed, O’Donnell gave a ‘man of the match’ performance when successfully dealing with everything Derry could throw at him over the 90 minutes.
Facing Drumkeen United in the Ulster Senior League - in the company of another first team squad member, Shane McEleney - many members of the Faithful will hold the view that Patterson would have made a difference on the night at the Lone Moor Road venue and, indeed, question the manager’s prerogative.
However, it was not a good night for the Derry boss who really would have expected his own young charges to step up to the plate against a UCD side which actually brought a losing run of four matches to an end.
With youngsters Enda and Ryan Curran leading the front line, Derry actually bossed the ball for long periods during the opening stages and even after failing to take advantage of the spotkick award, one felt they had enough in the locker to win this.
But UCD refused to adhere to that script and when they actually broke the deadlock in the 34th minute, the Brandywell natives began to get restless.
Robert Benson played a captain’s role when he was allowed to race forward from inside his own half and with the Derry midfield failing to close him down, the midfielder produced a magnificent lob over the advancing Ger Droherty to find the net.
The Brandywell was silenced but taking nothing away from the opening which, it must be said, came against the run of play at that stage.
Derry huffed and puffed with McEleney attempting a deft chip which failed to find the net two minutes later.
While Enda Curran’s shot was parried wide by the alert O’Donnell three minutes before the break.
However, 60 seconds later the home side deservedly restored equality. A probing cross to the back post from Jon Paul McGovern found the head of Michael Duffy and his downward effort crashed into the net from close quarters.
Following the change of ends, the home side were almost caught cold when Benson timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap and while he rounded Doherty in the one-on-one situation, his shot from an acute angle smashed off the butt of the post and a glorious scoring opportunity had been wasted.
UCD sat back on the defensive and broke at pace throughout the second period and they had the home in trouble with incisive passing through the back four.
Chris Mulhall burst through but his powerful shot was beaten away by the alert Derry keeper while Samir Belhout also broke through with a timely run but he shanked his effort recklessly wide of the target as the home side continued to struggle.
McGovern, McElhinney, Curran and Duffy all had half chances to win the game but they all failed to take advantage.
And just for the record, Derry Reserves secured an impressive 2-3 victory at the Ballybofey venue, with all three goals netted by young striker, Nathan Boyle.
Derry City - Doherty; Collins, Byrne, Elebert (Barry, h-t), Jarvis; McGovern (Stewart, 70), Ventre, McEleney (Foy, 81), Duffy; E. Curran, R. Curran. Subs. not used: Gallagher, McBride, T. McNamee and Timlin.
UCD - O’Donnell; Douglas, Boyle, Kavanagh, Langtry; Belhout, Creevy, Benson, Mulhall; Crowe; Morrison. Subs. not used: McGinley, Matthews, Ryan, Burke, Scott, Coyne and O’Halloran.
Referee - Mr. R. Harvey (Dublin).