Derry City 0, Finn Harps 2
DERRY CITY boss, Kenny Shiels says he must take 'full responsibility' for his side's biggest blip in form since he took charge following tonight's derby defeat to Finn Harps at Maginn Park.
The Candy Stripes slumped to a third successive league defeat at the hands of a battling, experienced Harps side who clinched victory through goals from substitutes, BJ Banda and Michael Funston.
Both those substitutions were enforced due to injuries to Johnny Bonner and Paddy McCourt while City missed two glorious chances to go in front in the first half.
Indeed, Ronan Curtis and Mikhail Kennedy should've done better when put through one-on-one with Harps keeper, Ciaran Gallagher but both hit the side netting.
And when Banda's deflected strike looped over the head of Gerard Doherty and nestled into the net on the stroke of half-time it was a cruel blow for Shiels' young charges.
Harps continued to frustrate their hosts in the second half and when Funston poked the ball home at the back post with eight minutes to go, there was no way back for the Candy Stripes.
Following defeats to Bray Wanderers (3-2), Cork City (3-0) and now Harps at home, Shiels knows he must quickly arrest this worrying series of results.
"It's the biggest blip we've had since I've been at the club and we have to turn it around," he said.
"We need to take the criticism which is coming our way and we understand that. We've had the plaudits but now it's time to see how we take the criticism and this is a good time to test players because we find out about players in defeat.
"Let's see who's got the necessary fight, commitment and character to help us come back and win our next game.
"It's up to me to establish the reasons and to fix the problems. That's what I'm here for and I take full responsibility.
"We have to pick each other up, it's a team effort. We must lose together and hopefully in the not too distant future we start winning together."
Shiels had said before the game, Harps had the upper hand given their vast experience. And having now taken eight points from the last three derby clashes, who's to argue with the City boss?
Harps had the first shot on target on 14 minutes when Caolan McAleer dispossessed Conor McDermott and curled his shot safely into the hands of Gerard Doherty.
Almost immediately Derry almost capitalised on a ball played over the top of the Harps defence by Kennedy. And when Ciaran Coll lost his footing, Curtis was clean through on goal but from a tight angle he tamely shot into the side netting.
Ex-City star, Paddy McCourt picked up a loose clearance from McDermott on the edge of the penalty area but he screwed his low strike just wide of the target on 19 minutes.
Six minutes from the interval Curtis controlled the ball superbly on his chest before playing Kennedy through on goal. The striker had time and space and with support arriving into the penalty area he attempted to find the near post but hit the side netting.
McEneff's curling strike from 20 yards was then palmed over the crossbar by Gallagher moments later as the Candy Stripes finished strongly.
But on the stroke of half-time substitute, Banda turned his man 20 yards from goal and his deflected shot looped over the head of Doherty and into the net.
It was a real sucker blow for City who really should've taken the lead into the interval.
The expected onslaught from the home side failed to materialise at the start of the second half as Harps continued to frustrate.
Harps could have doubled their lead with 10 minutes to go when Aaron Barry was dispossessed by the lively Banda who forced a good save from Doherty at full stretch.
And Banda was causing problems again on 82 minutes when his strike was parried into the path of substitute, Funston by Doherty and the experienced Harps man poked it into the corner of the net to end the contest.
Derry City: G. Doherty; C. McDermott, A. Barry, S. Whiteside, D. Jarvis; L. Schubert (M. Timlin 55), N. Low, A. McEneff, J. Daniels (B. Doherty 78); M. Kennedy (N. Boyle 55), R. Curtis; Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, H. Monaghan,A. Delap, S. Todd.
Finn Harps: C. Gallagher; D. McNulty, K. Cantwell, C. Coll; B. Molloy, J. Bonner (BJ Banda 22); E. Boyle, P. McCourt (M. Funston 57), G. Harkin; C. McAleer, S. Houston; Subs Not Used - H. Doherty, P. Mailey, T. McMonagle, G. Doherty, S. McGlynn.
Referee - Ray Matthews (Dublin)