DERRY CITY boss Peter Hutton felt his players ‘let themselves down’ as they crashed out of Europe after a second half capitulation against a ruthless Shakhtyor Soligorsk in last night’s second round tie in the Stroitel Stadium, Belarus.
Hutton was bitterly disappointed after his troops failed to capitalise on a dream start when Michael Duffy levelled the tie on six minutes in the sweltering heat in Salihorsk.
However, the rampant Belarusians ran riot after that strike and City fell apart as their Europa League adventure ended emphatically at the second qualifying stage on a miserable night for the Brandywell club.
And the City players, who arrived in City of Derry Airport in the early hours of this morning (Friday), must now turn their attentions to Sunday’s Airtricity Premier League clash against UCD in Dublin.
Hutton, who revealed he will sit down with Chairman, Philip O’Doherty and members of the Board of Directors next week to thrash out an extension of his current contract, still has hopes of leading the club into Europe next season through either the FAI Cup or the league campaign.
“I’m bitterly disappointed about how it ended,” said the Derry boss. “We just capitulated towards the end and I’m really disappointed for the players themselves because they let themselves down in that sense.
“Until they got the third goal we were well in the tie and had some chances ourselves but we weren’t clinical enough. We took the lead and then unfortunately didn’t hold out long enough to stem the tide. But overall I’m bitterly disappointed with the scoreline.”
The Derry boss refused to accept the difficult conditions or fatigue as an excuse for the second half demise, claiming his players were guilty of committing basic mistakes.
“I wouldn’t use fatigue as an excuse,” he said. “We were caught ball watching for the equaliser and never dealt with the second ball. That was disappointing having taken the lead and got ourselves back in the tie.
“If we had of held out for 10 or 15 minutes we could have got a real foothold in the game but it wasn’t to be. They had the momentum then and even when they got the second we still had a few chances ourselves but didn’t take them. And then their third goal effectively ruled the tie over.”
Hard to take
Gerard Doherty produced several fantastic saves in the second half and Hutton was full of praise for the goalkeeper for maintaining a level of respectability from the tie.
“We went chasing the game and left ourselves exposed and got a bit ragged. We lacked discipline and Gerard pulled off some great saves.”
Hutton claimed his first foray into Europe as manager was a ‘steep learning curve’ and he felt his side’s inexperience essentially resulted in their exit in Belarus.
“We capitulated at the end of the game which was really disappointing and hard to take. It was a steep learning curve for me.
“We enjoyed the Aberystwyth game and the boys deserved the plaudits but they have to learn from this defeat and the manner of the defeat.
“In European football you can’t feel sorry for yourselves because you just get punished and we got severely punished in the last 20 minutes.
“But it’s a very young team and the inexperience took its toll against a vastly experienced team who are a good side and when they got their tails up they were very clinical.”
With regards his future in the Brandywell hotset, Hutton is excited about taking the club forward.
“We’ll sit down at the start of next week and sort out the details. I’m delighted that Philip (O’Doherty) and the Board have given me that reassurance that I’ll still be here next year so we’ll sort that all out soon hopefully.
“I wouldn’t imagine there would be any difficulties in that regard and I’m happy to remain in charge and I’m sure Marty McCann and Sean Hargan are happy to remain in place as well.
“We’ve made good progress over the last few weeks and we’ll keep trying to build on that momentum.
“The players have had a taste of Europe and they should be wanting more so it’s important we get back to the bread and butter and it’s good we have a game so soon to get this one out of our system”.