ALAN REYNOLDS has hit back at his Derry City counterpart, Kenny Shiels for his ‘cheap shot’ in the aftermath of Waterford’s opening day victory over the Candy Stripes at the RSC.
As the two managers prepare to lock horns for a second time tonight at Brandywell Stadium, it’s clear the Waterford boss hasn’t forgotten the criticism levelled at his side for the tactics employed during the 2-1 win on the banks of the Suir last February.
On that occasion Derry struggled to cope with the rain-sodden pitch and Waterford fully deserved their victory but Shiels was unhappy with how the Blues went about their business.
“Good luck to Waterford if that’s the way they want to do it,” he said. “We came to play football and my side don’t know how to be cynical. I want them to play to the values of Derry City.”
Those comments have stuck in the mind of Reynolds who arrived in Derry last night with his in-form Waterford side who are level on points with leaders Dundalk at the top of the table with seven wins from nine matches.
“If you look at the game, the pitch didn’t suit us either,” recalled Reynolds. “But we made the best of it. Kenny (Shiels) said our philosophy is to try to be physical and rough people up and play it long and that’s a cheap shot!
“Anyone who was watching would’ve seen we tried to play the right way. We’re still trying to improve and get better. On the night it was difficult for both teams and it was a war of attrition and we came out on top.
“We were only finding our feet at that stage, as were Derry, so we both have improved since then.”
Reynolds must plan without two of his most creative and influential players for tonight’s match with both Bastien Héry and Stanley Aborah receiving lengthy four and six match bans respectively for their parts in the on-field bust-up at the end of the 2-1 victory over Cork City last Friday night which saw six sent off in injury time.
And the Blues boss reckons his side must be at their best if they are to record a fifth consecutive victory against a Derry team seeking a sixth win on the trot.
“This week has been a little disruptive because of suspensions,” explained Reynolds. “I think the performance against Cork has been forgotten in all this. We deserved the win against a good Cork side.
“We want to build on it and there’s a good mood in the camp. I’ve no doubt we need to be at our best to beat Derry City tomorrow night. They just started slowly and are finding their rhythm now so we need to be at our best.
“Again we’ll be going all out for the win. We’re not going to change our ways. Both teams will go at it so it makes for a good game.”
Reynolds himself was handed a suspension for his part in the melee which ensued at the end of the Munster derby last Friday night but will serve it on Monday night.
He’s delighted to take his place on the bench at Brandywell Stadium tonight, a place he has fond memories of from his stint as assistant boss to Stephen Kenny in 2008.
“It’s a place I have really fond memories of. I really enjoyed my time in Derry. I was delighted to get Derry in the first game of the season, it was special because I just liked the city when I was up there.
“It reminds me a bit of Waterford actually and I’m looking forward to going back. I think the people are great up there. They’re really genuine and it’s a great city. Derry are a top team in good form so we’ll have to be at our best.
“It’s a big pitch and the Derry City supporters are fantastic. They get behind their team and need something to cheer about. I expect the place to be rocking. It’s a tough place to go but it’s a place you want to play.
“I’ve told my players ‘you should be delighted to go to Derry’. It’ll be like playing at the RSC last Friday night. There was three or four thousand people and it’ll be the same tomorrow night only the reverse for us.”
The Waterford team bus stopped off in Dublin yesterday afternoon for a training session before completing the six hour journey to Derry. Reynolds feels his First Division champions have adapted quickly to life back in the top flight but he’s keen to play down talk of a title challenge.
“Obviously we’re delighted with the start we’ve had. We were an unknown quantity going into this league and I felt it was all about how quickly we could settle and gel as a team.
“Are we challengers? I wouldn’t think so. We’re taking it one game at a time and we’ve Derry City next so we have to be at our best. We will give maximum effort on Friday night. We won’t get carried away with a win and we won’t get carried away with a defeat. We dust ourselves down and move onto the next one.”