PETER ‘Pizza’ Hutton assumed control of the Brandywell dugout for the first time as manager of Derry City on Friday night and delivered the club’s first win in seven attempts to reignite an air of optimism at the Foyleside venue.
A stunning first half volley from Michael Duffy and a second half strike from the returning Rory Patterson put the smile back on the faces of the ‘Brandywell Faithful’ as City got back on the winning trail.
It was the club’s third league win of the season and it was badly needed after two straight defeats. But the manner of the win was the most pleasing aspect for Hutton.
“I’m delighted to get the three points and I thought it was thoroughly deserved, particularly first half where I thought we played some good football,” said Hutton.
“Second half I thought we lost our way a bit in terms of our shape and some boys were probably not 100 per cent fit either but I’m delighted with the three points.”
Both Duffy and Patterson took their goal tally to three in all competitions with their contributions on Friday night. It was the first time Derry scored more than one goal in a game since their 3-2 win over Athlone Town back in April 11th and Hutton was impressed with his side’s attacking threat.
“Michael Duffy had a chance similar to the one he scored just prior to it and he pulled his shot wide,” recalled the Derry boss. “But for the second one he showed great technique and he took it really well.
“The second goal was exceptional too on the counter attack. Patrick McEleney was superb and Rory finished it off well. So I’m delighted with the application of the players. They all gave 100 per cent.
“I’m happy with the way things are going,” he added. “I keep preaching to the players that there’s no substitute for hard work.
“We’ve developed a system of playing that they’re comfortable of playing and we’ll build on it and hopefully everyone buys into that,
“There will be mistakes along the way and we appreciate that. If you want to play free-flowing, attacking football sometimes it doesn’t go in your favour.
“I think the will is there from the players at the moment which is of massive importance.”
It was certainly a marked improvement from the club’s last home game - that 0-1 reversal against Shamrock Rovers which proved to be the final nail in the coffin for ex-boss Roddy Collins.
Hutton, however, refused to get carried away with the result against a team which arrived at Brandywell determined not to repeat a demoralising 7-0 demolition at the hands of Lough neighbours, Dundalk in midweek.
“Overall it was an attacking team,” said Hutton. “I thought with us being the home team and the pitch is in great nick too it was a case of us getting it down and playing and being attack minded and going for the jugular, particularly after Drogheda’s defeat in midweek.
“Given the fact they were beat seven in their previous game they were going to be very resolute and set up defensively to ensure they weren’t so open.
“We were aware of that and, especially first half we played really well.”
The first half performance in particular saw a return to free-flowing football which was so glaringly absent in previous games this season at Brandywell.
There were some excellent individual displays with Barry McNamee and Patrick McEleney a constant threat to the Drogheda defence while Ryan McBride and Aaron Barry were superb at the heart of defence.
After two early chances for both sides, City found the net in stunning fashion on 22 minutes when the impressive Barry McNamee’s inch perfect cross towards the far post was struck sweetly across goal on the volley by Duffy and the ball nestled into the bottom corner.
The visitors had their chances too and Gary O’Neill almost capitalised from a mis-placed Danny Ventre pass but the strike blasted his shot the wrong side of the upright,
Sean O’Connor’s long range strike had to be tipped over the crossbar by the alert Doherty shortly afterwards.
And Patterson could have given Derry a comfortable lead at the break when put through on goal by McNamee but his shot was saved by the advancing David Ryan.
Patterson came close to doubling his side’s lead two minutes after the restart when he latched onto a McNamee pass and cut inside onto his right foot but his shot went wide.
Patterson gave the home lot a two goal cushion when he bundled in from close range on 65 minutes.
Patrick McEleney showed tremendous pace and power to get past his man before finding the striker at the back post,with a pinpoint cross and Patterson’s first time shot crept under the body of Ryan.
Derry were denied a genuine penalty shout 12 minutes before the end as Drogheda captain, Crowley appeared to impede Patterson inside the area but referee, Derek Tomney waved ‘play on’.
It mattered little, however, as Derry secured the win and leapfrogged their opponent, moving into sixth place in the table.
Derry City: G. Doherty; S. McEleney, R. McBride, A. Barry, D. Jarvis; P. McEleney (R. Curran 90), B. McNamee, D. Ventre, B. Molloy, M. Duffy; R. Patterson; Subs Not Used - C. Gallagher, R. Collins, E. Curran, T. McNamee, R. Foy, N. Boyle.
Drogheda Utd: D. Ryan; M. Daly, A. McNally, C. McGuigan, S. Grimes; C. Walshe (C. Brady 54), G. Holohan (D. O’Brien h-t), D. Doyle, P. Crowley; G. O’Neill (P. Hughes 80); Subs Not Used - D. Connelly, P. Andrews, D. Mahon, D. Harding.
Referee - Derek Tomney (Dublin).