Bohemians manager Keith Long admitted his side had “got away” with a couple of results against Derry this year after keeping alive their European hopes with Friday’s 3-2 victory at Brandywell.
Goals from Ismahil Akinade (2) and Jake Kelly cancelled out efforts from Ciaran O’Connor and Barry McNamee - all inside the opening 45 minutes - and despite Derry dominating the second half, Bohs held out to take their Europa League battle with St. Pat’s to the final day.
“Derry have been good opposition for us this year and I know that might seem strange,” explained Long. “We have taken nine points from the three games but there has been very little in any of the games. Derry have good, technical players, they pass the ball well and they have exposed us at times in all the games we’ve played this year.
“Tonight was about our character. The players dug in at times, certainly in the second half, when Derry had us pinned in for long periods but the players put their bodies on the line and our keeper made some good saves.”
The Bohs boss was full of praise for his two goal striker but admitted Derry should probably have taken something from at least two of the games between the sides this season.
“If I’m being brutally honest, Derry have been good in all three games this season. We got a bit of a ‘smash and grab’ here at Brandywell earlier in the season with a 2-1 win and then there was the 4-2 in Dalymount Park. We were 4-0 up in 10 minutes but afterwards Derry completely bossed the game. Paul Hegarty seems to have brought a bit of enthusiasm and urgency to Derry’s play.
“That is obvious from their recent performances and results since Paul has come in. I think he has done a fantastic job and he has some excellent players to work with as well. He seems to have given those players that little bit of belief as you could see from how quickly they secured safety.
“However, in terms of the three games there hasn’t been a huge change. I knew Derry would be full of confidence and put their foot on the ball, spread the play and that we would have to dig in at times and be defensive at times.
“We rode our luck at times and have got away with one a bit in terms of the result but Gerard Doherty also got away with one in the first half (when Eoin Wearen was adjudged to have fouled him before scoring) so we could have been 4-2 up at half-time.
“Overall I am really pleased with the performance. Our boys has been fantastic from earlier on in the year and it is great that we have been able to bring it to the final game.”