Derry City left frustrated in the Faroes as Candy Stripes held by HB Torshavn
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DERRY CITY were left frustrated in the Faroes as HB Torshavn held the Brandywell club to a scoreless draw in the Europa Conference League first round tie in the Faroese capital.
Ruaidhri Higgins side were fortunate not to be behind in the first half with HB Torshavn midfielder Emil Berger striking the foot of the post before the City manager made a tactical switch.
HB Torshavn were the seeded team in the draw and are 83 places above Derry in UEFA's coefficients rankings and they flexed their muscles in the opening stages when Derry were below-par.
They will still be confident of progressing into the second round for the first time in nine years in next week's second leg tie at Brandywell.
Higgins' troops, playing their 45th match in European competition, did have their chances as his second half substitutions gave them the edge and Jamie McGonigle and Ciaran Coll both came close.
The result ended a disappointing week for League of Ireland sides in Europe with none of the four teams managing to clinch a first leg victory, three of those away from home.
There was almost a diplomatic incident prior to kick-off as the Farorese officials blundered by flying the Northern Ireland flag alongside Derry City's on the flagpoles above one of the stands of the 6,500 seater National Stadium.The gaffe was quickly rectified as they replaced it with the Irish tricolour.
Higgins made one change from the team which earned a late 2-1 victory against Sligo Rovers last Friday with summer signing Mullen making his first start to lead the attack, replacing Jamie McGonigle. Shane McEleney came in for Brandon Kavanagh with Higgins opting for a 3-4-3 formation.The Faroe Islands international goalkeeper Teitur Gestsson was named on the bench for HB Torshavn alongside their leading scorer, Mikkel Dahl, both deemed not fit to start.The home side were first to threaten on 13 minutes after a cagey opening. Aki Samuelsen crossed dangerously across the face of goal but Ari Jonsson couldn't get a touch as it fizzed across the six yard box.The ball broke out to Berger on the edge of the penalty and he took a touch before bending it towards the far corner and with Maher at full stretch it struck the outside of the post.It was a lucky escape for Derry and three minutes later they were under the cosh once again as Hanus Sorensen picked out Dan I Soylu who fired wastefully over the crossbar.At the other end McMullan did well to slot the ball through to Ben Doherty who was furthest advanced and the wingback took a touch before bearing down on goal but the goalkeeper stood tall and saved well.Higgins used a break in play to change formation to a 4-2-3-1 to try to get some control in the match and there was an immediate improvement.
On the half hour mark Duffy beat his man on the left wing and squared it to McMullan lurking just inside the penalty area but the Scotsman didn't get enough power on it and Mork saved comfortably.From a corner kick the ball broke to the unmarked Dummigan and his effort from 30 yards was parried clear by the keeper on 32 minutes.With two minutes of stoppage time signalled HB Torshavn threatened down the left wing with skipper Viljormur Davidsen who whipped in an inviting cross which was hit on the half volley by Mads Borchers but it was saved well by Maher who got down to his left.
Higgins clearly didn't like what he was watching and made a double substitution at the break with Patching and McGonigle coming on for Doherty and Mullen respectively.It was the Faroese who created the first chance of the second half on 54 minutes when the ball broke to Samuelsen inside a crowded penalty area and his sliced effort with the outside of his right boot which looked destined for the far corner but it was hoofed clear by a Derry defender.
McMullan played a one-two with Boyce and crossed into the feet of McGonigle who took a touch before turning and striking towards goal but Mork saved well on the hour mark.
Derry made another attacking double substitution with Patrick McEleney and Brandon Kavanagh replacing Sadou Diallo and McMullan on 62 minutes.Duffy floated a cross in with his left foot and McGonigle met it with a glancing header but Mork saved comfortably and almost immediately HB forced a save from Maher who flapped at a cross and then blocked Danish substitute Matthias Praest's low strike with his feet.
Coll replaced the injured McJannet on 79 minutes and within seconds of his introduction Patching sent a free-kick into the box and the defender's header was turned behind by Monk.Moments later Monk produced another excellent save to deny Duffy's curling strike from 25 yards to keep the tie scoreless.
McGonigle had a great chance to clinch a late winner as Duffy got beyond the right back and cross towards the near post to McGonigle who got away from his marker but his strike was blocked by sub, Samuel Chukwudi at full stretch.That was the last of the action and Derry have plenty to do in the second leg.
Derry City: Maher; Boyce, S. McEleney, Connolly, McJannet (Coll 79); Duffy, Diallo (P. McEleney 62), Dummigan, McMullan (B. Kavanagh 62); Doherty (Patching h-t); Mullen (McGonigle h-t); Subs Not Used - Ryan, Lemoignan, McEneff, C. Kavanagh.
HB Torshavn: Mork; Davidsen, H. Askham, Wardum (Chukwudi 86), Sorensen; I Soylu (Jensen 86), Berger, Justinussen; Jonsson (Praest 65), Borchers, Samuelsen (Thomsen 65); Subs Not Used - Gestsson, T. Askham, Hansen, Mohr, Dahl, Mouritsen, Johansen.
Referee: Kristoffer Hagenes (Norway)