Derry City’s Premier Division title aspirations could receive a massive boost should Stephen Kenny’s side record back-to-back home wins against UCD and Drogheda over the next four days.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
With leaders, Shamrock Rovers, entertaining Sligo (tonight) and travelling to St. Pat’s on Monday night, the “Candy Stripes” would increase the pressure on those in contention should they secure a six points haul in their home games.
Kenny, however, refused to look any further than tonight’s game against UCD, the students having produced three sensational come-backs against St. Pat’s, Shamrock Rovers (FAI Cup) and Drogheda last Saturday night - in the latter game battling their way back from a 4-1 deficit to win the match 5-4.
And those statistics have made the Derry boss sit up and take notice and having been held 2-2 in the league at the Belfield Bowl, the Dubliner will certainly be making those stats clear to his players this evening. (Kick-off: 7.45 p.m.)
“It could prove to be a big four days for us, but we can’t afford do look beyond the UCD game,” said Kenny last night.
“They’ve proved in recent weeks that if you are not at your best, they can punish you so we must continue to believe in ourselves and take nothing for granted,” he claimed.
“We’ve been on a terrific run of 14 games undefeated and our home form has been excpetional having conceded just three goals at Brandywell all season. So we must take that form in this game, which will be hard fought, and we must earn the right to win it.”
Derry’s results against UCD have been positive this season having won 2-0 and drawn 2-2 in Dublin while recording a superb 7-0 result at Brandywell in their last encounter.
Kenny, however, points to the students’ recent results and dismisses those games already played this season.
“When winning 7-0, UCD had a man sent off, so that was significant, but the other games between us have been close and we’ll have to be on our guard.”
He expected the game to “quite open,” but with UCD operating a five man midfield, Kenny agreed that that it was up to the home side to exert the necessary pressure in an effort to control the vital areas.
“Weve done well having had to modify our system due to the loss of both James McCleanand Gareth McGlynn, but more improvement is required. We must make sure that our work ethic is very high and we must also try to use the full width of the Brandywell pitch if we are to stretch them,” declared Kenny.
On the team front, the UCD game has come too soon for McGlynn who continues to make progress, while Michael McCrudden has already been ruled out due to an ankle injury. Owen Morrison, who strained a calf in training, will face a pre-match fitness test.
Derry, therefore, will be working off the panel which earned a 1-1 result in Sligo last weekend.