Derry City star man Will Patching non-committal on future as Dundalk return beckons

WILL PATCHING admits he’s enjoying ‘every minute’ playing for Derry City after his starring role in the club’s victory over Drogheda United on Friday night but the talented Englishman was non-committal on his future.

Sunday, 30th May 2021, 5:04 pm
Updated Sunday, 30th May 2021, 5:08 pm
Derry City playmaker and match-winner Will Patching on the ball against Drogheda United on Friday night. Photograph by Kevin Moore.
Derry City playmaker and match-winner Will Patching on the ball against Drogheda United on Friday night. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

The ex-Man City youth playmaker is expected to return to his parent club Dundalk for the remaining six months of his contract when his loan deal expires at the end of June.

Ruaidhri Higgins will have to be at his persuasive best to convince his former employers to extend Patching’s loan beyond the summer transfer window and while the 22 year-old midfielder insists he has yet to be contacted by the Co. Louth club, he’s uncertain about what the future holds.

"I’ve enjoyed every minute since I’ve come,” said Patching. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I’m just going to enjoy my time while I’m here and try to keep performing. All the lads and staff are great so we’ll see what happens.”

Dundalk obviously hold all the cards but if the decision lies with the player should he declare his desire to stay at Brandywell, he’s giving nothing away at this stage with just three games to play before his loan spell concludes. Of course Derry meet Dundalk at Oriel Park on June 25th but the player won’t be permitted to play against the Lilywhites.

“Nothing’s come up yet so I’m not sure,” he said when asked if Dundalk had been in touch about a return.”

When asked if it was his preference to stay on Foyleside should he get to choose, he responded; “I’ll see what comes up over the next few weeks and take it from there but I am enjoying every minute here.”

He has yet to play in front of a packed Brandywell and should fans be permitted into the stadium for the upcoming match against Bohemians on June 11th, perhaps that could be the deal clincher for the player who ‘can’t wait’ to wecome back supporters.

Drogheda United keeper David Odumosu watches helplessly as Will Patching's second free-kick comes off the underside of the crossbar and crosses the line. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

“Hopefully when we come back off the break, all the boys say it’s rocking when the fans are there so hopefully I get to play in front of all the fans if they get in and we can get a few more points. I can’t wait.”

Derry boss Higgins appears resigned to losing his star man who is joined at the top of the club’s goalscoring charts and who has been involved in almost all of the team’s 14 goals in the opening 14 matches.

“He’s a gifted footballer. Two tremendous goals tonight and it’s not surprising. I see it every single day. Take away the two goals, I thought his all round performance was of the highest level.

“If we’re being honest it’s going to be very, very difficult to keep him. I think Dundlak has made that quite clear that he will go back there but we have to enjoy him while we have him. And hopefully he can reproduce that form over the next few weeks.”

Former City boss Declan Devine claimed Patching ‘could be the best signing I’ve ever made at Derry City’. A bold claim but the stylish midfielder is beginning to show his true worth and he was the heart of everything Derry created at the Head in the Game Park at the weekend.

Never content to stand still, Patching is hoping to improve his goal scoring tally from open play with all FOUR of his goals to date coming from dead ball situations - two penalties and two fabulous free kicks.

“It’s something I want to try to do more - have a few more shots from open play because my four goals this season have been from dead balls but it’s something I want to add to my game - shooting from distance and try to hit the net from further out and hopefully I can get a few more from open play in the next few games.”

His match winner from the spot against Sligo Rovers was his first senior goal! An amazing stat given his influence on this City team this season as he flourishes in his talisman role in the team. He tested David Odumosu from open play with a sighter early on when he cut inside on his left foot before firing towards the bottom corner and when the Drogheda keeper spilled the ball, David Parkhouse sent his follow-up into the side netting.

Patching showed ingenuity for his opening strike on 12 minutes as he caught Odumosu out of position and found the corner of the net with accuracy.

“I’ve just seen a big gap and I just thought ‘go for it’ and it’s come off,” he said afterwards. “He left quite a big gap to be honest.”

And the winning strike was stunning as it struck the underside of the crossbar and crossed the line despite the best efforts of the Drogs keeper. Cameron McJannet made sure of it as he blasted the ball into the back of the net but there was no doubt whose goal it was.

“I think Cameron McJannet was trying to take the credit and say it was his but I think I’ve gone level on goals with him now so he’s not taking that one away from me,” he smiled.

Ten out of the 14 goals Derry have scored to date have come from setplays and it’s not been a fluke with Patching crediting player/coach Mark McChrystal for his input.

“It’s something we work on and Mark McChrystal is very good at it. With the experience he has, he puts a lot of ideas together for us and we’re doing a good job at it. I think we can score a bit more from open play but that will come if we keep playing well but from set pieces we’ve been good.”

Derry’s fourth win on the road under Higgins was one of the team’s best performances so far and Patching believes the quick tempo start to the game set the tone.

“We got off to a quick start. The first 15 or 20 minutes was probably one of the best performances during the early stages so far this season. We came out moving the ball well and I think we kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit but we’ve got a lot of character in this team and we stepped up in the second half and we were in control of the game.

“‘Aki’ (James Akintunde) missed that chance to go 2-0 up but I’m sure he will get many more goals and he’s got the capabilities to put them away.”

Akintunde was brought to the ground inside the penalty area moments before Drogheda were awarded a spotkick and Patching was at a loss to explain why the referee failed to spot the foul by Dan O’Reilly.

“It was 100 per cent a penalty. I’m not sure how he didn’t get that. But like I said, ‘Aki’ is a great player and he’s going to get us into those positions where he wins us free-kicks, penalties and scores goals. But I don’t know how that penalty wasn’t given.”

Derry go into the midseason break on 17 points and in eighth spot and Patching was delighted to return home to England with the team on a upward trajectory.

“It would’ve been harsh to be walking away with just a point especially after the start we made. It’s good now going into the break with three points. It’s a long two weeks if you go into the break without a win so hopefully we can come back firing again.”