Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins flies to Latvia on Europa Conference League scouting mission
RUAIDHRI Higgins flies out to Latvia today on a scouting mission ahead of Derry City's upcoming UEFA Europa Conference League first round qualifier against Riga FC.
That three hour plane journey was made that little bit more comfortable for the City boss after watching his team end a luckless seven match winless run in the league following last night's 1-0 victory over UCD in Belfield.
'Relief' was the operative word after Will Patching's 53rd minute penalty kick ensured a much needed victory which moved Derry to within one point of second placed Dundalk who were held by Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
With just one league match remaining, against Bohemians next Friday night, before Derry host Riga FC at Brandywell in the first leg qualifier on July 7th, Higgins wanted to get an up close look at his European opposition.
Riga are at home to league leaders Valmieras in a top of the table clash on Sunday where Sandro Perkovic's in-form side will be hoping to close a seven point gap on their rivals for the title.
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Of course Higgins has already made himself familiar with the current Riga team and was heavily involved in analysing the Latvian outfit and preparing Dundalk for their Champions League first round qualifier back in 2019 when the Co. Louth men progressed on penalties.
It's a much changed Riga team since the Lilywhites were paired with them three years ago with just veteran midfielder Ritvars Rugins surviving from that match involved in Riga's last league outing against Auda.
Higgins was delighted with Derry's timely win against UCD last night and hopes his team can build some momentum ahead of that first leg tie against the Latvians who are currently enjoying a seven match winning streak.
"I wouldn't want to get on that plane in the morning, I would've jumped off it if we hadn't of win here tonight," he joked. "But that win will build a bit of confidence and hopefully kickstart a bit of momentum in a right way.
"Performance wasn't the most important thing, the result was. We've played better in games where we've dropped points. Tonight we just needed the win and hopefully we can grow from this."
Given the fact Riga take on the league leaders on Sunday, Higgins expects to witness a full strength side and believes his trip will prove fruitful in his preparations for that much anticipated European clash in two weeks' time.
Higgins has previously held roles as chief scout and opposition analyst for both Dundalk and the Republic of Ireland senior international team under Stephen Kenny and so he will be well versed in the art of reconnaissance.
"It's a top of the table clash so I would imagine we would see their full armoury so it's a good opportunity to go out there and see them."