DERRY CITY boss, Declan Devine insists the ‘Candy Stripes’ Europa League second round qualifier remains ‘very much alive’ after a gallant display against Turkish giants Trabzonspor last night.
Devine was bitterly disappointed with the manner of the four goals his side conceded, but was ‘overjoyed’ his brave troops managed to net two precious away goals.
“I’m disappointed with the standard of goals we gave away but in terms of our character, commitment and our desire to get back into the game, I was overjoyed,” said the Derry manager.
“To go two goals down against a top team and pull it back says a lot about our lads playing in that kind of atmosphere,” he added.
“I still feel the game is alive. If we get an early goal, I think you saw tonight, there was a few nerves in their back four.
“The disappointment for us is that we could have prevented all four goals.
“The players are disappointed but they put in a lot of work and we scored two fantastic goals from two lads who worked very, very hard all night.
“Although we’re slightly disappointed we didn’t go on and get a third goal.”
Although facing a daunting task and a two goal deficit against a technically superior Trabzonspor outfit in next Thursday night’s second leg, the tie is very much still alive.
Derry were significant 20/1 outsiders ahead of kick-off and after conceding twice in the opening 15 minutes in the Huseyin Avni Aker Stadium, it certainly looked ominous.
However, City stunned the Turkish support with goals from David McDaid and Paddy Kavanagh to level matters within 16 minutes of Trabzonspor’s second strike.
The Turks added two more goals either side of the half-time interval but they will arrive in Foyleside next week with more than a tinge of doubt in their minds having failed to kill off the remarkable efforts from their part-time opponents.
Initially, Derry were all too easily cut open by a side fielding five full internationals.
Poland international Adrian Mierzejewski worked a one-two with Sen to play Olcan Adin in on the left. Ger Doherty made a good stop with his feet but the ball spun into the air with Mierzejewski’s overhead kick deflecting to the net off Eoghan Osborne’s knee.
Five minutes later Adin left fly from some 25 yards off his left foot. Doherty spilled the ball and Brazilian Paulo Henrique was on to it in a flash to scoop the loose ball to the net to double his side’s lead.
Rattled they may have been, but a piece of opportunism by McDaid got Derry right back into the game on 24 minutes. A mistake by Argentinian midfielder Gustavo Colman gifted the ball to McDaid who then touched it through the legs of Giray Kacar before rifling a stunning left-footer to the corner of Onur Kivrak’s net for a brilliant finish.
Incredibly, Derry then levelled on the night on 32 minutes with a textbook counterattack.
The superb Barry Molloy brilliantly won a tackle on the edge of his own box before then playing a sublime ball in behind for the run of Paddy Kavanagh.
And the Dubliner cut inside and fired to the near bottom corner of the net with the help of a deflection for a big first goal for the club.
In a game you couldn’t take your eyes off, Trabzonspor regained the lead six minutes before the break. Adin whipped a free-kick with plenty of pace on it and the ball flew into the Derry net off the head of Molloy.
In the second half Kacar was gifted a downward header from Mierzejewski’s corner to add their fourth goal. Doherty then saved well from Sen and Mierzejewski while Molloy cleared off the line from Colman as Derry held on.
Substitute Ryan McBride then almost snatched a third for Derry two minutes into stoppage time when drilling a shot narrowly wide.
Trabzonspor: Kivrak; Yavru, Kacar, Yumlu, Celustka; Akgun, Colman; Sen (Oztekin, 80), Mierzejewski (Gomes Da Costa, 67), Adin; Henrique (Gural, 75).
Derry City: Doherty; Madden, Greacen, S. McEleney, Osborne; Kavanagh (McBride, 64), Molloy, Higgins, P. McEleney (Duffy, 73); B. McNamee; McDaid (Griffin, 86).
Referee: Artyom Kuchin (Kazakhstan).