ST. PAT’S Athletic sustained a major blow to their Premier Division title aspirations at the Brandywell last weekend and tonight, Derry City will attempt to inflict similar punishment on Bohemians at Dalymount Park. (Kick-off: 7.45 p.m.)
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Indeed, the current league leaders will also attempt to extend their 12 match unbeaten league record - which stretches back to last May - while striker, Eamon Zayed, requires six goals over the final 10 games to surpass Glen Crowe’s record of 25 league goals in one season.
However, the only issue dominating the mind of Brandywell boss, Stephen Kenny, is the importance of securing another three points from a venue which, it has to be said, has been a happy hunting ground for the “Candy Stripes” over recent seasons.
That said, Derry’s strength in depth has been minimised at such a crucial stage of the season following the transfer of James McClean to Sunderland and, indeed, the injury to right-winger, Gareth McGlynn, who remains in the treatment room.
Having fielded without both in the 3-0 win over Galway at Terryland Park and, of course, last Friday’s 2-0 result over St. Pat’s at the Brandywell, the Dubliner has been particularly happy with the performances and workrate of teenagers Patrick McEleney and Stephen McLaughlin who have now started to play pivotal roles in what is very much an attacking formation.
Add in the fact that Owen Morrison has returned to his former stomping ground, Kenny has been presented with another midfield option but while Morrison’s international clearance had not come through at the time of going to Press last night, the player may not have an involvement in tonight’s fixture.
Given the stakes at such a crucial phase of the campaign, Kenny was not expecting a free-flowing, open match in the wide spaces which exist at the Phibsboro venue.
Having watched Bohemians defeat Sligo 2-1 at the Showgrounds last weekend, the Derry boss agreed that confidence would be high at Dalymount Park.
“They also have quite a few experienced players who have won trophies in the past. They are strong on the counter-attack and dangerous in set-play situations, so I really don’t believe it will be an open game,” declared the Dubliner.
“I believe we will face a congested midfield area and we will have to battle for the right to play, so the game will prove to be a real test for us,” he claimed.
“We’ll have to battle for everything, but our players have already displayed that quality over recent games with wins over Galway and St. Pat’s after we lost the services of James McClean and Gareth McGlynn.
“Not only have we battled well, but we’ve also passed the ball so well. We’ve shown great confidence when in possession and we have players who are brave enough to demand the ball in all areas of the park.
“But we must continue to give that level of performance and attempt to express ourselves in the best way we can. We must also continue to believe in our ability to travel away from home and win important matches.”
Deery, Higgins doubtful
With both Kevin Deery and Ruaidhri Higgins missing training this week due to a thigh strain and a virus respectively, Kenny would dearly like to field the same starting XI which represented the club so well in the last two games.
“Kevin and. Ruaidhri are considered doubts at the moment, so we’ll have to wait and see what develops on that front. Ruairi Harkin will be on standby should either fail to pass a pre-match test.”
He was delighted, however, with the contribution of the wingers who came in for the Galway and St. Pat’s matches.
“I’ve been very pleased with our performances given the loss of two key players, but to be fair to Stephen McLaughlin and Patrick McEleney, they’ve certainly made their presence felt over both games. They’ve both given us good attacking options, they have displayed great skill and creativity and we’ll be depending on more of the same from both of them in the Bohemians game,” insisted the team boss.
Confident and certainly enjoying his spell on the summit of the Premier Division, Kenny was looking forward to the first of two difficult league matches, the results of which could go a long way to deciding the level of success the “Candy Stripes” will achieve during what has been a sensational 2011 Airtricity season.
Match “live” on radio
Derry City’s crucial match away to Bohemians tonight in the Airtricity League Premier Division is ‘live’ on both BBC Radio Foyle on 792 Medium Wave and Drive 105.
Eric White will be in the commentary box at Dalymount Park for Foyle while Drive 105’s Kevin McDaid will also relay full match coverage. Both programmes get underway at 7.30 p.m.
Derry City Monthly Draw
Garvan Kerr emerged the winner of the Derry City Monthly Draw for July. Garvan’s No. 667, sees him win the top prize of £1,000.