KENNY Shiels has dismissed suggestions Bray Wanderers are not the force they were last season and is bracing himself for a backlash from a Seagulls team desperate to stop the rut.
Bray have yet to win a game and have lost all three matches, including a 6-0 drubbing by Shamrock Rovers, since holding Dundalk to a scoreless draw at Oriel Park on the opening day. They find themselves on the foot of the table after five games.
Under Harry Kenny the Wicklow men were pushing for Europe but after their well documented financial problems, they limped to a sixth place finish.
The aim this season for new boss, Dave Mackey is to consolidate their position in the top tier and with the quality of Aaron Greene who netted 12 times last season, Gary McCabe and Conor Kenna within their ranks, Shiels isn’t expecting a comfortable night at Brandywell Stadium tonight.
“I don’t agree that they’re not the same force,” said Shiels. “It’s early in the season and you can’t judge that. They have good players and you can’t deny the quality they have in the team.
“They went to Dundalk and got a 0-0. That’s the only point they have but you can get into bad habits and lose a game and it effects the while team. That’s the situation they’re in at the minute. So they’ll be looking to bounce back and get up that table.
“There’s nothing in it. There’s three points between six teams so league tables are not a good place to judge teams at the moment.”
Derry’s own form has been inconsistent but they answered their critics after a 6-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers with a 5-0 hammering of Limerick in last Monday night’s Brandywell return.
And Shiels is hoping to back that up with the club’s first successive victories of the season tonight.
“I don’t know if our form has been that bad because we played quite well against Shamrock Rovers believe it or not. For an hour against Waterford we were okay and they’ve won all but one of their games. Against Sligo we had a poor second half but nobody’s murdered us apart from the scoreline against Rovers.
“We’ve held our own against most of the teams and we’re a developing team and I knew it was going to take a little while.
“I think the result on Monday night was befitting of the occasion that we put on a good performance and everyone I’ve been speaking to really enjoyed which was good to get that feedback as it helps us.
“The whole town is bubbling and buzzing for Friday night and we want to do it again and give them a good display if we can.”
David Hopkirk and Gavin Peers are expected to make the bench for the first time this season after the pair came through training sessions this week unscathed. However, Armin Aganovic and Chris Turner remain sidelined while Conor McDermott (hip) and Rory Patterson (calf) picked up knocks and are rated doubtful. Striker, John Cofie has been allowed time to return to England as his wife is expecting a baby.
Meanwhile, the scheduled games against Dundalk next Monday and Cork City have been postponed due to international call-ups. Those games have been rescheduled with Derry now set to play Dundalk at Brandywell Stadium on Monday, May 14th (kick-off 7.45p.m.). Shiels’ troops will then travel to Cork on Monday, June 4th with a kick-off time to be confirmed.
Derry will, however, play Institute in the annual Billy Kee Memorial Cup at Brandywell on March 23rd.
“We don’t want the same as the Autumn last year where we had two games in seven weeks which was poor. With us being out of the FAI Cup it had a part to play as well. We were set back because of that and lost match fitness so we don’t want that to happen again. Next Friday night, March 23rd we play Institute in the Billy Kee Memorial at the Brandywell. So that gives the team some match fitness.”