Derry City must learn to adapt to punishing schedule and injury pile-up: says Ben Doherty
BEN Doherty insists Derry City must adapt to the intensity of the League of Ireland schedule and be prepared to fill the void left by injured players if they're to challenge for the title.
The City defence required a reshuffle just 14 minutes into Friday's stalemate with Dundalk as Mark Connolly pulled up clutching his hamstring.
Connolly's absence will be a major blow for Ruaidhri Higgins' charges but the City boss can take some comfort in how Ciaran Coll moved seamlessly into centre half alongside Shane McEleney.
Three games in the space of seven days isn't ideal at this early juncture of the season when everyone is getting up to full match fitness and the growing injuries are certainly a concern.
However, Doherty claims the City dressing room is well equipped to deal with such setbacks and they're determined to go into the international break with their unbeaten run intact.
"That's the message in there, to go next Friday, take three points and we'll get a good recovery in the break," said the roaming left-back.
"The players in that changing room have put in a massive effort since the start of the season. I know we're only a short while in but we haven't got the biggest squad and our injuries are well documented.
"The players in there have put in a massive effort, playing out of position, playing Mondays and Fridays.
"It's what it's going to take this year if we want to do anything but these two weeks off for the internationals will be a big benefit for us."
That defensive reshuffle when Ronan Boyce came on for the injured Connolly didn't appear to affect the City defence who had little to do in the second half.
"They got a corner just as Mark went off and Ronan came on and it was about getting the information across about markers and picking up from corners. We settled into our game quickly.
"Big Shane moved to the right hand side where he was comfortable and Ciaran Coll had to play left centre half and didn't look out of place at all. Ciaran would do a job anywhere for you. He has good leadership, can talk and keeps everyone organised.
"It's probably a makeshift back four in terms of myself and Ciaran playing on that side but I felt we dealt well with whatever they threw at us."
Doherty almost broke the deadlock in the second half forcing a terrific save from Nathan Shepperd who dived at full stretch to keep his long distance effort out with his fingertips.
Having scored the opening goal in Tallaght with a sublime finish after running the length of the pitch, Doherty is more than happy to get into those goalscoring positions.
"Especially in the second half when OIlie came on we got a bit of joy down the left side. Ollie is a willing runner in behind and is probably a more natural winger than Jordan (McEneff) or (Will) Patching who played there in the first half. No disrespect to them, two quality players but it's just not where they play.
"Ollie had a bit more of taking the full-back inside and letting me get down the line. The ball fell to me at the edge of the box and no one came to press it so I thought I would hit it.
"I thought it was going in right up until the last second when he got a touch and it was an unbelievable save. That wasn't the only chance but we just didn't get the bounce of the ball."
A seven point return from three tough games over seven days is impressive and Doherty says Derry must get used to teams coming to Brandywell intent on sitting deep and snatching a point.
"When you take into consideration the week we've had. We were in Dublin twice, we played the champions of last season and Dundalk who have been competing for titles for as long as I can remember.
"It's probably two points dropped in our situation. We want this to be a fortress. We want teams to come here and have to work for their points. It was one of those nights.
"It's not doom and gloom. We take the positives. On another night we would've won the game comfortably.
"We've played worse this season and come away with good results and wins so you have to take it when you get it. We'll just kick on to next Friday and hopefully we can put on a show."