Derry City lose ground in title race

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - April 22nd 2011''Airtricity Premier Division. Derry City V St. Patrick's Athletic. Derry captain Kevin Deery and St. Pat's Stephen Bradley. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty Photography.
�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - April 22nd 2011''Airtricity Premier Division. Derry City V St. Patrick's Athletic. Derry captain Kevin Deery and St. Pat's Stephen Bradley. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty Photography.

Derry City manager Stephen Kenny was left disappointed when his side surrendered their lead to a late penalty against St. Patrick’s Athletic at the Brandywell on Friday night.

“I thought our football was outstanding – we played at a level you wouldn’t normally see in the League of Ireland. You would not see that calibre of moves and our technique was outstanding at times.

“We were a little bit wasteful as well and we made some mistakes on the night. We had spells in both halves where we were the better side but we didn’t play for all of 90 minutes.”

James McClean put the home side ahead after 70 minutes when Eddie McCallion’s cross fell to him at the far post and he struck low into the bottom corner. Celebrations were cut short for City when, just eight minutes later, the Saints were awarded a penalty when McCallion brought down Daryl Kavanagh just inside the area. Daniel North converted from the spot and the sides shared the spoils.

“Ours was a great goal – a great move which came from a very good cross.

“From our point of view, we conceded from our own corner kick. Their keeper has kicked it the full length of the pitch and then they won the penalty.

“They put us up to it. They have some good players and they counter attacked well. We were quite happy to just try and mind the three points and we got punished with the penalty decision.”

Many City fans left the ground bemoaning the referee’s performance. Their sentiments were shared by the manager:

“In the second half, particularly, a lot of free kicks didn’t come our way. The minute we scored they got a succession of free kicks. I thought in the second half a lot of free kicks went the way of St. Patrick’s, definitely. I’m trying to be as fair as I can and that’s a fair assessment, he gave an awful lot of free kicks against us. He wasn’t consistent.

“Stewart Greacen got his fourth booking tonight and he’s suspended for the next game. It was a soft booking and, in fact, the only booking he deserved was against Dundalk. It must be very frustrating for the young man.”

Kenny is keen to press on with his immediate focus now on Monday night’s EA Sports Cup second round fixture at home to Mervue United.

When the sides met last September at the Brandywell, in the League of Ireland first division, a Mark Farren hat-trick helped City emerge as 6-0 victors.

Kenny notes how Mervue have improved since then:

“Mervue have knocked Finn Harps out of the competition and drawn with Cork in the league. They seem to be a better team than they were last year. It’s a tricky one for us but we’re going to give some players the opportunity to see what their capabilities are. The team we had out there tonight looked good but it is what’s beyond that that we have to establish in games like the one against Mervue.

“We have to make quite a few changes because we have a match schedule coming up with mid-week games. We’ll have to change the starting eleven around and it’s an opportunity for young players to state their claim for a place.”

As far as the league is concerned next Friday’s visit to Bohemians will mean Derry will have met each team in the division. Despite claiming only five points from a possible twelve at home Kenny is insistent that, at this stage, it is nothing to be concerned about.

“Our home form has been excellent. Going forward we’ve been good but we’ve played the better teams at home – I’m not worried about it.

“It’s very early to say how the league will go at this stage in the season, we’ll wait and see. Obviously if we’d won tonight people would be raving about us being on top.”

Derry City now sit third in the Airtricity League, two points behind leaders Shamrock Rovers.