RORY PATTERSON slotted the ball into the corner of the Bray net from six yards in the second half of Sunday’s five goal victory and celebrated in his familiar nonchalant manner.
But it was a goal of great significance for the Strabane man as he reached an impressive personal milestone in a ‘Candy Striped’ shirt.
That goal, his first of the match scored on 62 minutes of Derry City’s five goal demolition of Bray Wanderers, was his 50th strike for the club - an incredible feat considering he’s been at Brandywell just two and a half seasons!
Patterson, who reaches another notable milestone tomorrow when he turns 30 years of age, admitted afterwards the achievement had crept up on him.
“Obviously that’s a nice thing to hear,” he said. “It’s a nice milestone to reach considering I’ve only been here two and a half years so hopefully they keep coming.”
The striker is currently in a rich vein of form and followed up a record breaking Europa League qualifier hat-trick against Aberystwyth Town with a brace of goals three days later.
Sunday’s ‘double’ brought Patterson’s season tally to 11 goals and his partnership with Patrick McEleney who lit up the Brandywell with two spectacular strikes against Bray in the first half, is developing into something special.
Patterson was instrumental in McEleney’s second goal as he hit the ball on the volley from the halfway line into the path of his strike partner, who controlled it before delicately lobbing the Bray keeper with his next touch.
And Patterson felt he owed McEleney an assist: “I owed him a few because he’s been setting me up since I’ve been here,” added Patterson. “So it was good to help him get on the scoresheet.
“I had loads of time on the ball and heard him shouting for it and I saw he was in acres of space so I just caught it right and it fell to his feet and he did the rest.”
“The last few games are catching up now but we’re just happy to get the three points and I think it was a great all round performance.
“‘Pizza’ keeps saying to us that the goals aren’t coming by coincidence. Everybody, from one to 11 are working their socks off and the players that are coming off the bench are making a big difference too. So it’s just rewards for all our hard work.
“We’re just looking to keep the run going. We’re keeping clean sheets and hitting the back of the net and it’s good to see ‘Fats’ get two and he was unlucky not to get the hat-trick.
“We need to keep the run going and we’re definitely not happy with the position we’re at in the league. Obviously with the shocking start that we had, we’re making up for lost time.
“We can’t be sitting mid-table. We want to push on and be contesting around the top half and until we’re up there doing that we’re not going to settle for anything less.”
The five goal victory was City’s fourth straight win and a seventh unbeaten but it’s the number of goals scored in that period which impresses the most.
Under Roddy Collins’ tenure the club scored just nine goals in 13 games. Eleven games into Peter Hutton’s reign and the ‘Candy Stripes’ have already registered more than double that figure. In fact Derry have scored an impressive 24 times from those 11 fixtures in all competitions!
It’s a promising statistic and evidence of the revival under the new boss so far and Sunday’s win was the biggest league win of the season, following up on the club’s first away win of the campaign last weekend against Athlone.
It would be understandable if the players had taken their foot off the pedal given the exertions of Thursday night’s memorable Europa League victory and the travelling involved.
But when McEleney netted that wonder strike to get Derry off the mark they never looked back.
It was the perfect warm-up for Thursday night’s Europa League second round qualifier against Shaktyor Soligorsk and it really was a special strike which broke the deadlock on 11 minutes as McEleney rifled his shot into the top corner of the Bray net from 30 yards.
That was his fifth goal of the season in all competitions and it ranked right up alongside those memorable strikes at Bohemians and Athlone Town earlier this season.
Hutton remarked afterwards it was a strike worthy to grace the World Cup stage.
“If you seen that first goal in the World Cup final you would be talking about it for years,”said Hutton. “It shows the mark of quality in this team and Rory and Patrick are playing really well at the minute.”
McEleney put daylighT between the sides on 32 minutes when he controlled Patterson’s outstanding cross-field ball from the halfway line, before deftly lifting it over the head of the Bray keeper. It was an excellent finish but the goal was all about Patterson’s superb pass on the volley.
Bray probably should have reduced the deficit 10 minutes after the break when Jake Kelly drilled his cross into the Derry penalty area and when the ball broke to Shane O’Neill eight yards from goal, he put his shot over the bar.
One minute later and McEleney missed a glorious opportunity to complete his hat-trick when he got onto the end of Patterson’s pass six yards from goal, but his tame side-footed effort was saved by McGuinness.
Kelly sent a curling free-kick into the side netting for Bray on the hour mark as the visitors continued to press forward. However, their hopes of a comeback were over on 62 minutes when Michael Duffy burst through the Bray defence, laid it off to McEleney who found Patterson unmarked at the back post. And the striker was gifted the easiest of tap-ins for his fourth goal in two successive games.
Patterson netted his second of the afternoon on 72 minutes when striking the ball into the net on the half volley from a corner kick before debutante, Stephen Dooley netted the game’s final goal in the final minute as he got on to the end of Philip Lowry’s deflected shot and drilled into the bottom corner to complete the rout.
Derry City: G. Doherty; D. Jarvis (P. Lowry 50), S. McEleney, A. Barry, D. Ventre; M. Duffy (J. Tracey 72), B. Molloy, B. McNamee, M. Timlin (S. Dooley 72), P. McEleney; R. Patterson; Subs Not Used - S. Dunlop, R. Curran, N. Boyle, T. McNamee.
Bray Wanderers: S. McGuinness, N. Cooney, D. Cassidy, S. O’Neill (G. McDonagh 65), G. Kelly, G. Curran (R. Coombes 65), D. Scully, D. Zambra, S. O’Connor, J. Kelly, I. Akinade; Subs Not Used - S. Redmond, S. Hurley, M. Brown, C. Byrne.
Referee - Paul Tuite (Dublin).