DERRY City will be delighted with a nine points return from their last three matches over a period of just nine days, but those wins have come at a cost.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports from Brandywell
Photographs: STEPHEN LATIMER
Delighted with three wins on the spin against Cork City, Shelbourne and now Bray Wanderers, the ‘Candy Stripes’ have consolidated their second place spot in the league table behind reigning champions, Sligo Rovers.
Add in the fact that Derry have conceded just two goals so far this season, scoring 14 in the process, and one would certainly consider the start to the 2013 season as very impressive.
However, the loss of two players after the Shelbourne game last Friday – Rory Patterson out for at least a fortnight having tweaked a hamstring and Sean Houston possibly sidelined for a few months having torn a hamstring – has cast a dark cloud over that impressive start.
But, as the club showed yesterday, Derry do have strength in depth and while both Patterson, Houston and, indeed, Kevin Deery and Stewart Greacen all missed yesterday’s clash against Bray, those players who stepped in did what had been asked of them.
Totally defensive on the day, Bray travelled with a clear-cut game-plan, having flooded the midfield area when not in possession and breaking at pace on the counter when in control of the ball.
And that tactic actually served them well during the opening 20 minutes.
Indeed, at that stage Bray’s veteran striker, Jason Byrne, cracked a superb effort off the Derry crossbar after centre-back, Shane McEleney had failed to clear the danger when inside his penalty area.
Earlier in the game, Michael Rafter could have netted twice during the opening minutes but he failed to find the net.
As it was, Derry broke the deadlock in the 25th minute in fortuitous fashion as Rafter gained possession 30 yards from goal and he let fly, his wind-assisted dipping shot causing Bray’s reserve keeper, Sean Holmes, serious problems as he back-peddled towards his goal with the result that he fumbled the shot and ball dropped down inside his upright.
Having grown in confidence following the goal, Derry continued to surge forward in Baltic conditions with Patrick McEleney and Simon Madden both going close when well placed.
And with their tails up Derry deservedly doubled their lead following the change of ends with a well worked strike.
In the 54th minute, Ryan McBride played a magnificent pass up the left flank to find Rafter and when the ball had been passed square across the face of goal, Patrick McEleney’s superb dink to the back post was gleefully headed home by the striker from close range.
In the end it was a thoroughly deserved victory for the home lot and a win which will go a long way to building confidence levels prior to next Friday night’s trip to Dalymount Park and an RTE televised match against Bohemians.
Delighted to have secured another win, particularly on home soil, Declan Devine felt it was throughly deserved.
“It was a great three points for us. The players put in a fantastic shift and I’m also delighted that Michael Rafter got two goals. He’s a top player. I feel he’s only scratched the surface, I feel there’s a lot more to come from him. He’s played in three different positions in a week and it shows just how good a player he is.
“But we now have to move on. We’ve got Bohemians on Friday night which will be difficult but with the confidence in the side we feel we can get another three points from that game.”
DERRY CITY – Doherty; Madden, McBride, S. McEleney, Crawley; Molloy, Higgins; P. McEleney (Kavanagh, 68), McNamee, Griffin (Duffy, 75); Rafter (Curran, 84). Subs. not used: McCaffrey, McNamee, Kelly and Gallagher.
BRAY WANDERERS – Holmes; Hyland, O’Connor (Akinade, 59) Thomas Knight; Doyle (Webster, 62) Zambra, Dempsey, Waters; Byrne. Subs. not used: Earley, O’Neill, Malone, Joyce and McGuinness.
REFEREE – R. Rogers (Dublin).