Derry City midfielder Ruaidhri Higgins is refusing to accept that the team’s chances of winning the Premier Division title are over after dropping two valuable points at home to Bray Wanderers at the Brandywell on Friday evening.
The 26 year-old Limavady man was defiant and stoic after the disappointing 1-1 draw with Pat Devlin’s side.
Derry are currently one point behind Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers respectively. However, the Tallaght based club have a game in hand over Stephen Kenny’s men but as Higgins quite rightly points out Derry have the opportunity to beat Stephen O’Neill’s men when both sides meet in Dublin on Thursday October 13.
“Nothing is over yet,” said Higgins moments after the final whistle had been blown.
“Tonight’s result does make things a lot more difficult for us to win the league but nothing is over yet – there’s still plenty to play for.”
The former Bohemians player continued: “The next few weeks are going to be pretty big for us because we have Dundalk next Saturday and then the following Thursday we travel to Tallaght to take on Shamrock Rovers and then we play Galway United at the Brandywell on the Sunday.
“I think we need to aim to pick up maximum points from all of those games if we want to be in a good position going into the final two games of the season. We’ll continue to work hard and focus on getting a result against Dundalk next week.”
Bray took the lead towards the end of the first half when poor marking allowed for Dean Zambra to convert a Gary Dempsey corner with his head.
Derry huffed and puffed but they continually failed to test former Candystripe Darren Quigley in the Bray goal.
Despite Derry’s lack of clear-cut chances they were thrown a lifeline when second half substitute Emmett Friars fired the ball past Quigley midway through the second half. It was a remarkable goal to say the least but no matter how hard they tried Derry could not unearth a second.
“Tonight’s result is very, very disappointing,” admitted Higgins. “It was a big game for us so it’s a kick in the teeth for us not to get the three points.
“I thought it was a scrappy enough match and we weren’t consistent enough throughout. We paid the price when we conceded from another set play – it’s even more frustrating because for the vast majority of the season we have been well organised when it’s come to set plays. We were sloppy and like I said we ended up paying the price.”
Although clearly disappointed not to have won the game Higgins congratulated his team mate Emmett Friars for scoring what he described as an “unbelievable” goal but continued to lament the fact that they had dropped two valuable points at home to a team they were expected to beat.
“We needed a bit of inspiration from somewhere and Emmett [Friars] gave it to us when he scored that unbelievable goal in the second half. I thought from that moment on that we looked like the only team who could go on and win the game.
“However, throughout the entire match that was our only sustained period of pressure. It’s disappointing not to pick up three points, especially when you’re at home. We’re going for the league title so it’s a game we really should be winning.”
When asked if he thought that some of the referee’s decisions hindered Derry in their search for goals Higgins said that he found Derek Tomney “unapproachable” but refused to blame him for the team’s failure to take all three points on offer.
“I think there were times when we were getting rhythm into our game and the referee was stopping play and I felt that he was unapproachable. But in saying that it wasn’t the referee’s fault why we failed to pick up three points tonight. It’s a team game and maybe we were slightly the better team over the 90 minutes but we didn’t create enough chances, which isn’t like us because we normally create five, six and seven good chances every game. I can only remember two or three tonight.”