Derry’s Eamon Zayed makes scoring goals look easy.
The 27 year-old Libyan International has found the back of the net no less than 17 times this season, 16 of which were scored in the league.
The Dublin-born striker scored his 16th and 17th goal of the 2011 season when he netted twice against Drogheda United in Hunky Dory’s Park on Friday evening.
Zayed’s brace and one from winger Gareth McGlynn ensured Derry returned north with three points and the added bonus of a clean sheet.
Speaking to the Sunday Journal yesterday afternoon, Derry City boss Stephen Kenny described the input from Zayed since he joined Derry at the beginning of the season as an “exceptional return”.
“It’s always a gamble signing a new strikers but with Eamon [Zayed] we knew what we were getting,” said Kenny. “The goals from Eamon have been an exceptional return and his contribution has been invaluable.”
Kenny offered his opinion on why he thinks Zayed has been so proficient for Derry this season.
“We’ve allowed Eamon to play where he plays best and that’s up front. When he was with Sporting Fingal he came in from the left hand side but what Eamon seems to be doing is working,” explained Kenny.
“Eamon is very instinctive and is always making intelligent runs around the opposition’s box. He works very hard during the game and not only can he score goals but he holds the ball up exceptionally well too.”
The Derry boss will travel to Dublin later today where he will watch league leaders St. Patrick’s Athletic take on fellow title contenders Shamrock Rovers at the Tallaght Stadium.
“There are a lot of teams in with a shout,” said Kenny, when asked about the significance of Friday’s win over Drogheda United.
“Bohemians have picked up a few good results and are back in the hunt again. All we can do is concentrate on our game.”
Derry are only one behind third placed Shamrock Rovers and today’s game in Dublin see Rovers level on games played with Kenny’s men.
Derry welcome Rovers to Brandywell next Friday evening and should this afternoon’s game end favourably for Derry next Friday’s clash will be of the utmost importance for Kenny.
“Friday’s win over Drogheda United was a big win for us and it’ll obviously give us confidence ahead of next Friday’s match against Shamrock Rovers at the Brandywell.”
It is thought that both Eddie McCallion and Gareth McGlynn will miss the clash with the Dubliners as a result of amassing four yellow cards each.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Eddie and Gareth could be suspended and if that happens we’ll just have to adapt,” he said.
Adapt is a verb that Kenny’s men have become all too familiar with in recent games.
In the last few weeks he has lost the services of his vice-captain Barry Molloy and, more recently, captain Kevin Deery.
“The players are working very hard . When you lose players like Kevin Deery and Barry Molloy to injury you always know that it’s going to be difficult but credit has to go to some of the players who are coming through.”
Derry teenager Ryan McBride made his league debut for Derry against Drogheda on Friday. Kenny said that he will use this afternoon’s reserve match with Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell to give some of the players who were on the bench against Mick Cooke’s Drogheda the chance to play a full 90 minutes.
“The main ethos at this club is to blood new local talent and I think Ryan McBride was an example of that on Friday. He came in and did very well. He’s been very impressive since joining from Brandywell Harps.
“There’s a reserve game at Brandywell at 2pm on Sunday [today] so I would like to use that to give players like David McDaid and Ruairi Harkin a chance to stay sharp ahead of next Friday’s game with Shamrock Rovers.”
Turn to pages 46 & 47