Patterson, Curran lead from front in Finn Park
CONCEDING what he described as “a very silly late goal” against Finn Harps on Sunday afternoon, Derry City’s assistant boss, Paul Hegarty, had very little to complain about following his side’s opening pre-season victory.
ARTHUR DUFFY was in Ballybofey
Photographs: CONOR McGONAGLE
And, if the truth be told, the “Candy Stripes” really should have won this by more with a few of their forward players squandering glorious opportunities when well placed in front of goal.
That said, the visitors never looked in any danger against a very young Finn Harps’ side which appears to be well equipped to enjoy a prominent end of season position in the First Division this season.
Having opted for a return to the Ulster Senior League, Peter Hutton’s hand has now been strengthened with a young first team squad extending to up to 30 players.
Derry, on the other hand, looked to be better organised and always comfortable against Harps. In fact, once they got to grips with the uneven surface visiting keeper, Gerard Doherty, was never forced into a save throughout the proceedings.
But that late, late consolation really annoyed Hegarty who, up until that point, had been very happy with the performance after disappointing displays against both Ballinamallard United and the N. Ireland UEFA Regional Cup squad in the Brandywell.
“We conceded a very silly late goal, which was the only disappointment,” claimed Hegarty afterwards. “We looked comfortable, we looked sharp and we had a bit of shape about us which was also good,” he added.
“It may have been in the 92nd minute but we switched off at a setpiece situation and that lack of concentration cost us a goal that should not have been conceded.”
Hegarty was particularly happy with his side’s defensive display, Harps never seriously threatening in the final third while operating a 4-3-3 formation when in possession of the ball.
“After our defensive performance against the N. Ireland Junior side, we did a bit of work on our shape and, thankfully, that department really improved against Harps.
“We looked more assured and once they settled down, I thought both Kevin Deery and Ruaidhri Higgins looked very comfortable when sitting in front of our back four and Gerard (Doherty) didn’t have a save to make during the match.
“We had more of an appetite in this game and we really should have won by more,” declared the assistant boss.
With every Derry City player performing well on the day, the visitors lost the services of new signings Shaun Houston and Thomas Crawley to injury with Houston expected to be out of action for a few weeks having gone over on his ankle.
“We had a few players picking up minor knocks, but I think Shaun will be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury. We will know more when the swelling goes down and he has a scan, but we think he will miss the start of the season.
“The other players who picked up knocks would be expected to be okay in a few days, so they will not be involved against Institute on Tuesday night (tonight) in our final pre-season game,” concluded Hegarty.
In control of the fixture from the kick-off, Derry looked the dominant side with Stewart Greacen winning almost every challenge he competed for as Harps clearly struggled in the front line, their leading striker, Kevin McHugh, regularly out-numbered when he did receive possession.
Greacen headed wide from a corner while a Simon Madden snap-shot was deflected wide of the target as Derry continued to boss the ball.
However, with five minutes remaining before the half-time break, Derry moved into the driving seat. Shaun Houston was called ashore 10 minutes earlier due to an injured ankle and his replacement, Rory Patterson, made his presence felt when hammering a low shot to the net after Madden had cut the ball back into his path.
Following the change of ends, Harps did improve but it was Derry who continued to create the scoring chances. The lively Mark Griffin missed the proverbial “sitter” in the 57th minute when Thomas Crawley drove a low cross into the six yards box, however, the former Dundalk striker failed to make the required contact and a glorious chance was lost.
Patterson shot tamely at Harps keeper, Gallagher, when well placed before substitute Ryan Curran burst forward and while he crashed the ball against the butt of the upright, Griffin did exactly the same with the rebound.
But Derry got that all-important second goal in the 87th minute when a Barry McNamee free-kick was flicked on by Patterson with young Curran heading the ball home from close range.
Simon Madden wasted another good opportunity to put a fair reflection on the scoreboard but he failed to force the ball home before Hegarty experienced his only disappointment.
Straight from Madden’s miss, the ball was worked back up the park before Harps were awarded a free-kick. Substitute Marc Brolly floated the ball into the danger area and the alert Paul McVeigh was on hand to head powerfully home as the visiting defence failed to react.
FINN HARPS - 4-5-1 - Gallagher; J. Doherty, McNulty, McMonagle, Crossan; Bonner, McGowan, McBride, O’Hagan, M. Doherty; McHugh. Subs. used, Cowan, Harkin, Brolly, McCarron and McVeigh. Subs. not used, Forker, Patton and Reilly.
DERRY CITY - 4-2-3-1 - Doherty; Madden, Greacen, McBride, McCaffrey; Deery, Higgins; Kavanagh, Houston, Crawley; Griffin. Subs. used, Patterson, Curran, B. McNamee, S. McEleney, T. McNamee and Devlin. Sub. not used, Coll.
REFEREE - Mr. Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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