DERRY CITY: City hoping to spoil the title party at Turners Cross
BEN DOHERTY is confident Derry City can spoil the title party for champions elect, Cork City at Turners Cross on Monday night with a victory which would put the Rebels' celebrations on hold.
The Candy Stripes have been invited to the coronation party on Monday in the re-scheduled league fixture at the scene of their 3-0 demolition in front of the live TV cameras back in April.
However party pooper, Doherty believes a lot has changed since that one-sided encounter at the beginning of the season and with the incentive of moving above Shamrock Rovers and into third spot with two games remaining, it's set up to be a hugely competitive affair.
"We have a big game now on Monday night against Cork and that will be one we will be looking to take three points again," said the City teenager. "They drew again tonight so they need a point against us on Monday to win the league.
"We're not just going down to be invited to the party, we're going down to spoil it," he insisted. "We need to get the three points to get into third position. We don't want to settle for fourth. It's in our hands now and hopefully if we focus on what we have to do it works out for us.
"We're six points ahead of Bray with two games to go and goal difference is in our favour but going down to Cork, we want that third position to equal what we did last year. And given the season we've had it would be an unbelievable achievement for us."
Is it a case of exacting revenge for that heavy loss in April? "Well the last time we were down there we didn't give a good account of ourselves. It was live on TV and I don't think we did ourselves any favours with our performance. But that was a long time ago and we've build ourselves back up again as a team and we're hard to beat and score against.
"We'll be going down to Cork with the same mentality and hopefully take the three points."
The N. Ireland U21 defender produced perhaps his best performance in a Derry City shirt on Friday night in the comprehensive 3-0 victory over Finn Harps at Maginn Park which came on the back of his excellent display in the UEFA European U21 Championship qualifier win against Estonia just four days previous.
He assisted Rory Patterson for the striker's second and Derry's third goal of the night with a terrific left-footed cross in the second half to cap a superb individual performance at left back.
And while he had sympathy for rivals Harps who look destined for the drop as they sit five points adrift of their nearest rivals with two games to go, Doherty was delighted with how the home side performed.
"It was the three points that we wanted and we knew it was going to be tough against a Harps side who are fighting for their lives. It's 20 people's jobs they're fighting for more or less.
"They were missing Paddy McCourt and big named players like that but the players who played still showed that fight and determination. They were rattled at half-time and I'm sure their manager was getting the fired up for it.
"The first half was a but scrappy and we got a goal at a good time for us. They came out in the second half and put a bit of pressure on us that we didn't really need but we dealt with it really well and got two goals ourselves to see it out comfortably enough.
"That wasn't a typical derby game where the tackles are flying in. We knew they had to come out and play against us tonight and our gameplan worked. We sat in and broke quick. Tonight we just had to soak up the pressure and break on them quickly and it paid off for us."
And the talented left-back agreed it was his best display in a Candy Striped shirt as he continues to flourish in his first full season with the senior side.
"That was probably one of my best performances for Derry so far especially against your derby rivals - there's no better game to have it. Everybody played well and there was a few good performances."
Doherty's partnership with Ronan Curtis on Derry's left flank was particularly impressive on the night as both players who were on international duty during the week, produced stand-out performances.
"We've both been on international duty and got two good results at the start of the week and I think that might have given us a bit of confidence. But I think myself and Ronan are building a good relationship down the left side and it's working well for us this last few games. It doesn't just happen, we've been working on it all season and it's paying off at the minute."
It was an excellent all round team performance but Doherty was also delighted with City striker Rory Patterson who netted a seven minute brace at the start of the second half to take his season's tally to three goals - a quickfire double which killed off the opposition.
"Strikers need those goals and Rory has had a tough season with injury but the derby game is the best game to play in as you're getting one over on the other team but especially for him getting two was brilliant and he was disappointed coming off as he was on a hat-trick."