Sava Saves ‘Drogs’ at Brandywell

Derry's Ryan McBride celebrates his goal as Derry take the lead against Drogheda at the Brandywell. (2003SL04)
Derry's Ryan McBride celebrates his goal as Derry take the lead against Drogheda at the Brandywell. (2003SL04)

RORY Patterson raced off the Brandywell pitch following the final whistle last Tuesday night, totally frustrated that his five star performance against Drogheda failed to yield a victory.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

The striker, who pressurised and bullied the visiting defence at every available opportunity, couldn’t be faulted for effort or enthusiasm, rather the performance of Drogheda custodian, Gabriel Sava, grabbing the headlines instead.

And to be fair to the goalkeeper, he pulled off a series of outstanding saves in one-on-one situations, consistently frustrating the home attendance as Derry moved forward in wave after wave of threatening attacks in the first half.

Sava got down low to parry Patterson’s low free-kick in the 11th minute before the ball was hacked clear and while the keeper also got a hand to Patterson’s thunderous shot in the 29th minute, the setpiece which followed fashioned the opening goal.

Kevin Deery delivered the ball into the danger area and as the visiting defence failed to clear the danger, up popped Ryan McBride to divert Ruaidhri Higgins’ header firmly home.

That goal certainly warmed the cockels of those frozen souls in the stands and one got the feeling that another Derry goal could put this tie to bed.

Derry maintained the momentum, but Sava refused to grant any favours as denied Mark Griffin with another magnificent save in the 55th minute.

Another one-on-one situtation with Patterson followed with the Drogheda keeper again coming out on top.

However, Drogheda began to gain heart with just one goal between the sides as the game moved into its final quarter and the “Boynesiders” began to give their hosts a fright when advancing.

Nervous began to show as the clock ticked down and when Derry substitute, Mark Crawley, conceded a corner in the 81st minute, the writing was on the wall.

Graham Rusk floated the ball into the area and the lively Mick Daly totally lost his marker to glance an equaliser to the net in front of his club’s very small support.

That failure to net that insurance goal, therefore, continues to haunt the “Candy Stripes,” Drogheda again departing the Brandywell with a share of the spoils.

And for Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, it may have been a frustrating evening, but he opted to take the positives when heaping further praise on his playing staff for their efforts on the night.

“I thought we played were well against Drogheda,” claimed Devine. “Overall, we put in a very good performance and, at times, I felt we played extremely well against them.

“They finished last season as the league runners-up, yet we managed to create at least five or six clear-cut scoring chances but we failed to take advantage and that was down to the brilliance of their goalkeeper,” he added.

“Having deservedly broken the deadlock, I honestly felt we would go and and score the insurance goal but, in fairness, to our players it didn’t arrive but that was not due to the want of trying.

“There keeper was not producing top drawer saves, they were outstanding stops and when he receives the ‘man of the match’ award, I think it actually says quite a lot about the quality of our performance.”

He felt so sorry for his striker, Patterson, who again produced a performance which help motivate and lift the crowd of under 1,000 spectators.

“It was just one of those nights,” lamented Devine. “Rory Patterson was a joy to behold. He gave everything; he covered so much ground; every time he gained possession of the ball he caused chaos in the Drogheda defence, but luck was not, unfortunately, on his side in this game.

“He worked their keeper like no other striker, but it was the keeper who came out of on top and you started to worry that Drogheda might get one or two chances.

“As always seems to be the case, they did and the equaliser was down to our poor defensive play when we failed to mark up for a corner-kick. That was the only disappointing moment of the night. They scored and all the work that we put in seemed to pale into insignifance. It was so disappointing for everyone.”

However, Devine refused to ignore the effort. “We played some great passages of football. We created incredible scoring chances and, on another night, we would have won that match comfortably, maybe by three or four goals.

“We netted six goals in the previous match against UCD and could have scored 10; we also created clear-cut chances against Sligo in our first game yet lost out 1-0 in a match we really should have shared the spoils, so there have been so many positive and I’m confident that we will turn the corner,” he concluded.

DERRY CITY – 4-1-2-3 -Doherty; Madden, McBride, S. McEleney, B. McNamee; Molloy; Deery (Crawley, 39), Higgins; Griffin (Houston, 71), Patterson, Rafter (Duffy, 81).

Drogheda United – 4-4-2 - Sava; Gannon (Hynes, 72), Grimes, Byrne, Hand (Foley, h/t); Rusk, O’Connor, Daly, G. Brennan; O’Brien, Cassidy (R. Brennan, 65).

Referee – Mr. D. Tomney (Dublin).