Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins wants players to recharge their batteries

Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins has given his players the weekend off, so they can recharge their batteries ahead of their final home game of the season, when they face Sligo Rovers, at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, next Friday night.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Saturday, 6th November 2021, 11:46 am
Updated Saturday, 6th November 2021, 11:50 am
Derry City's Joe Thomson skips away from Finn Harps midfielder Mark Coyle. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI
Derry City's Joe Thomson skips away from Finn Harps midfielder Mark Coyle. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

Higgins admitted after Friday evening's draw at Finn Harps, that his side's form had dipped in recent weeks, but he hopes they come into training on Monday morning fresh and ready to go against Liam Buckley's men.

"I think there's no getting away from our form over the last couple of weeks has probably taken a dip, but since I have been here it's the same 14/15 players going to the well every week and three games in a week at this stage of the season is extremely difficult, but we'll be going into next week completely fresh," he insisted.

"I'm giving the players a weekend off to recharge the batteries and get them in on Monday with a smile on their face ready to go and try and beat Sligo in front of our own crowd."

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For the 15th time this season, the Brandywell men have scored a late goal to take something from a game and Jamie McGonigle's 88th minute penalty, earned them a share of the spoils in the North West derby and Higgins is delighted that never say die attitude is ingrained in his group.

"It's part of what we are, it's part of this group and the part of character which the players have and they keep going to the well. We have dug-in tonight (Friday) and got a point that we probably deserved," he added.

"It was a scrappy game and it was never going to be pleasing on the eye, I don't think anyone was expecting that. On a difficult pitch and them battling for their lives and it was a poor night also where conditions weren't conducive to playing good football, but there was plenty of commitment on show, maybe not so much quality.

"We have got a late equaliser after travelling home in the early hours of Wednesday morning and I think it shows the mentality of the group.

"The character can't be in question, what can be in question at times is giving ourselves a wee bit of a mountain to climb but we have responded and it's better to come away with one point than nothing."

The Limavady man also conceded the game at Finn Park, which was played in tough conditions, is exactly how he felt it would go, but he also admitted that if Jamie McGonigle had taken his chance minutes before Harps broke the deadlock, then the outcome could have been different.

"It played out exactly as everybody involved in football would have seen it beforehand. It was scrappy, second balls and aerial duels, it was a difficult pitch and it wasn't conducive to good football, which we all saw," he explained.

"It was just a scrappy match and a point apiece is probably fair enough.

"Games like that when there's nothing in it come down to small details and fine margins, if we put that away we are 1-0 up, they have to come out and then you can try and hit them on the counter.

"But we conceded a poor free-kick from our end and then we have lost our marker in the box, they have scored, so it was a disappointing goal from our end but we responded well and got ourselves back into the game.

"I was disappointed that we didn't really get going in the first half, they picked up more second balls than us, but then I thought in the second half, when it wasn't really a football game and it was just a scrap, we did better.

"They have battened harder professionals throughout their team, boys that have been around for a long time, but we did get to grips with the sort of second ball stuff in the second half and got some sort of foothold in the game.

"But listen, Jamie has missed a good chance to put us in front and it was a game of few clear cut chances. There were balls in the box and scrappiness, but as I said I think a point each is probably fair."