RORY Patterson believes the emphasis on attacking football under new Derry City boss, Peter Hutton will provide him with the platform to repeat his goalscoring heroics from last season.
Last year’s Premier Division top goalscorer returned from his controversial two match suspension on Friday night and helped rubber stamp victory over Drogheda United at Brandywell with a second half strike - a win which could prove to be a watershed moment for Hutton’s side.
Patterson netted City’s second goal on 65 minutes when bundling into the net from close range after Patrick McEleney showed superb vision and accuracy to pick him out at the back post.
It was a real poacher’s goal and one which got Patterson back in business after a disrupted start to the season in more ways than one.
The former N. Ireland international was bizarrely excluded from the starting line-up under Roddy Collins for games against Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk, Limerick and UCD this season as the team weren’t creating enough chances for him, according to the then Derry manager.
And when he finally got back in the team for the trip to Dalymount Park he was the victim of controversial red card which incredibly ruled him out for the next two league games.
The Brandywell club have the lowest ‘goals for’ tally in the league so far with the two goals against Drogheda taking the ‘Candy Stripes’ to just 10 after 14 games!
Therefore Hutton will be delighted to get the talented striker back on the scoresheet and the new boss’ preference for attacking, free-flowing football has been warmly welcomed by Patterson.
“Obviously ‘Pizza’ and Marty (McCann) have emphasised the passing game,” said the striker. “We have got good passers in the team and it was just all about getting the balance right between the defensive side and our attacking game. And against Drogheda we showed we’re capable of doing that.”
Patterson had kept himself match fit during his league suspension by playing with the Reserves in the Ulster Senior League and he felt he benefitted from those games.
“I had to be ready for when I was called upon,” he declared. “I got a couple of games with the Reserves just to keep match fit. It’s not ideal but it had to be done.
“It’s good to be getting back in the team and getting a goal.”
Patrick ‘Fats’ McEleney, who was superb until replaced on 71 minutes by Ryan Curran, showed tremendous pace to burst past his man before finding Patterson at the back post, with a pinpoint cross and the Strabane man’s first time shot crept under the body of David Ryan.
And Patterson was full of praise for McEleney’s for part in the goal.
“That’s ‘Fats’ all over,” he said. “He knows where I’ll be and nine times out of 10 he’ll find me. Some of the passes he does find me with, not a lot of others would see it on. I know he’s capable of it and when I seen him pick the ball up I knew where it was going. I’m just happy I got it in.”
It was Patterson’s second league goal of the season but he felt that low return by his standards had much to do with the defensive minded former boss, Roddy Collins.
And Patterson fired a broadside at the recently sacked Dubliner, claiming Collins bizarrely told him he ‘wasn’t going out to win games’, therefore his services weren’t needed for those games in the opening third of the season.
“Everyone’s banging on about it being a slow start for me but the manager that was in before said to me he wasn’t going out to win games so I don’t actually know what’s expected of me and what I should be doing in terms of goals with regards the matches that I’ve played and chances I’ve had.
“I don’t think I’ve had that many so I’ll just keep ticking away and hopefully I’ll get a few more before the break.
“It hasn’t been an ideal start for me. In pre-season I was scoring for fun. The in the first game of the season I didn’t get playing because we weren’t going down to win which was a bit of a downer.
“And then the Dundalk match I didn’t get on because we weren’t creating chances. I see my game a lot different than that and hopefully ‘Pizza’ and Marty are the same.
“I thought I was getting back at it in Dalymount but I don’t know what it is with referees in this league.
“Some of the decisions are baffling. We read the report that the referee sent in and it said I didn’t hurt the lad and he (referee) said I didn’t mean it but I still get a two game ban!
“So I don’t know what the process is or who makes these decisions but you have to live with them. That’s my suspension over and hopefully I can steer clear of cards and get a good run of games now.
“We know how good we are and how good we can be. It’s no good saying it to the media it’s all about doing it on the pitch and against Drogheda was a good starting block.”
It certainly was a massive improvement on previous games at the Lone Moor Road venue this season, as the players appeared to play with a lot more attacking freedom.
The performances of the offensive minded Barry McNamee, Patrick McEleney and Michael Duffy - who opened the scoring with a terrific volley on 22 minutes - in particular stood out while Ryan McBride and Aaron Barry did superbly well to marshall the Drogheda attack.
The greater emphasis on moving the ball quicker to the attacking frontline and allowing the offensive players the freedom to express their innate style brought a new sense of optimism back to the Brandywell.
However, Hutton stressed that no one will be getting carried away with a win against a wounded Drogheda United side who came into the game on the back of a 7-0 demolition at the hands of a rampant Dundalk midweek.
And Drogheda did have their chances. Gavan Holohan came close for the visitors when he let fly with a powerful first time effort from distance and it skimmed wide of Gerard Doherty’s left post.
Then City found the net in stunning fashion when McNamee’s inch perfect cross towards the far post was struck sweetly across goal on the volley by Duffy and the ball nestled into the bottom corner - his third goal of the campaign.
Sean O’Connor’s long range strike had to be tipped over the crossbar by the alert Doherty shortly afterwards.
And Patterson could have given Derry a comfortable lead at the break when put through on goal by McNamee but his shot was saved by the advancing David Ryan.
Patterson came close to doubling his side’s lead two minutes after the restart when he latched onto a McNamee pass and cut inside onto his right foot but his shot went wide.
Patterson gave the home lot a two goal cushion when he bundled in from close range on 65 minutes and the Derry striker was denied a genuine penalty shout 12 minutes before the end as Drogheda captain, Crowley appeared to impede him inside the area but referee, Derek Tomney waved ‘play on’.
Derry City: G. Doherty; S. McEleney, R. McBride, A. Barry, D. Jarvis; P. McEleney (R. Curran 90), B. McNamee, D. Ventre, B. Molloy, M. Duffy; R. Patterson; Subs Not Used - C. Gallagher, R. Collins, E. Curran, T. McNamee, R. Foy, N. Boyle.
Drogheda Utd: D. Ryan; M. Daly, A. McNally, C. McGuigan, S. Grimes; C. Walshe; C. Walshe (C. Brady 54), G. Holohan (D. O’Brien h-t), D. Doyle, P. Crowley; G. O’Neill (P. Hughes 80); Subs Not Used - D. Connelly, P. Andrews, D. Mahon, D. Harding.
Referee - Derek Tomney (Dublin).