Derry City players won't take foot off the gas: insists Alan Reynolds

ALAN Reynolds issued an ominous warning to Derry City's rivals, claiming the Brandywell club's players are 'hungry' for success and unlikely to take their foot off the pedal after a scintillating start to the season.

Derry City assistant boss Alan Reynolds believes bigger tests will come for the unbeaten Candy Stripes who hope to extend their winning run to six games in Saturday's derby with Finn Harps.
Derry City assistant boss Alan Reynolds believes bigger tests will come for the unbeaten Candy Stripes who hope to extend their winning run to six games in Saturday's derby with Finn Harps.

The Candy Stripes go into Friday night's North West derby meeting with Finn Harps in Ballybofey intent on ending the first phase of fixtures unbeaten.

Ruaidhri Higgins' side are guaranteed to be on top of the League of Ireland table after the end of the first quarter of the season having opened up a six point gap over reigning champions Shamrock Rovers with Monday night's professional display against UCD in Dublin.

That 2-0 result was City's second victory in Dublin in the space of four days and a fifth straight league win which extended the team's unbeaten run to 13 Premier Division matches, carried over from last year - the club's best run since 2011!

City's assistant manager and Ireland U21s coach, Reynolds is hoping to keep that momentum going with another win at Finn Park on Saturday and he has no concerns that the Derry players will allow complacency to creep into their game such is their professionalism and desire to win.

When asked after Monday night's game in Belfield what his feelings on Derry's unbeaten start were, Reynolds quipped he was 'disappointed' the team didn't have more points on the board.

"It means I'm disappointed to drop a couple of points. We felt we should've got three points in one of those games but it's a long road," said the ex-Waterford boss. "We have to keep going but this group of players are hungry to do well and they won't ease off," he insisted.

"When you look at the fixtures and the way they come round, whatever has happened, we played Dundalk and Rovers early on and Sligo and now we don't play them for a while, so it's strange. We have targets within the first nine games but we can't ask for any more. The players come in every day and work hard.

"We do know it's a long season. Momentum is great and is hard to stop but our feet are on the ground. They're enjoying it, that's for sure."

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Reynolds believes Derry's incredible start and trend of late winning goals is a product of a 'savage' pre-season training camp - the likes of which he has never witnessed before - has stood to them. However, he knows bigger tests lie ahead.

"I've never seen a preseason as tough as the one we've done," he said. "It was savage stuff. They're really fit but there wasn't one word about it, nobody complained. The weather was horrendous and they just got on with it. It was impressive. It's a reflection now as a group they're scoring late goals. But that's when it's going well. We know there is another side of it.

"The tests will come when you have a few tricky results and you will find out how tight the group really is. Everyone loves travelling back after a late winner in Dalymount but there's another side of it as well."

Monday's trip to bottom of the table UCD, previously unbeaten at home, was a potentially tricky clash on a dry, bobbly Belfield pitch in front of a paltry attendance which included Rovers manager Stephen Bradley who took the opportunity to get an up close look at potential title rivals.

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The visitors struck the woodwork three times and Eoin Toal's goal was chalked off for an infringement in the UCD goalmouth and the Derry players could have been forgiven for thinking it wasn't going to be their night.

However, they persevered and quality shone through in the end thanks to a beauty of a free-kick from Will Patching on 67 minutes and Ronan Boyce's close range insurance strike 10 minutes later.

"I'm absolutely delighted and the players take all the credit," added Reynolds. "They're an absolutely fantastic group of players. We had a big game in Dalymount and the place is packed and then you come here where there's nobody at it and the pitch is poor and it's about being professional. We have a lot of quality and trust the players and they responded really well.

"The key is to be patient and not get frustrated or try and force things. Keep doing what you're doing. On another day we could've been two or three up at half-time so patience is the key. We know we have the quality and we have goals in us."

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Patching stole the show with his stunning opening strike having earlier hit the crossbar with a spectacular long distance effort but Reynolds was more impressed with the team's third clean sheet of the season.

"We played him (Patching) higher, as a 10, and he's a goal threat but you have to get the ball to him. We have a lot of good players but I'll talk about our defensive performance. Players like Eoin Toal, (Cameron) McJannet, Shane (McEleney) and Ronan Boyce.

"They were solid and gave a platform for those boys to go on and play. I'm delighted with the clean sheet because we know we have enough at the top end to score goals.

"It's great and there's a real pride in the clean sheet. I'm banging on about the clean sheet and I'm like a defensive coach here at the club," he laughed, "but I just take pride in keeping clean sheets because it gives us a solid base with the flair we have up front. That's pleasing - another clean sheet."

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Derry City extend lead at the top with victory in UCD