RODDY Collins occupied the Brandywell dugout for the first time as Derry City boss last night and it must have felt like a home from home for the Dubliner as his side cruised to a comfortable victory over an experienced Derry & District select.
It was only the second pre-season fixture the ‘Candy Stripes’ have played on a grass surface so far under Roddy’s tenure, therefore the City boss will be pleased with this latest training exercise for his new-look troops.
However, he won’t get carried away with the result and won’t be writing home about the performance in front of an estimated 200 supporters who braved the cold and wet conditions at the Lone Moor Road venue.
Two superbly crafted first half goals by Patrick McEleney and Rory Patterson and a sublime Michael Duffy effort late in the second half decided the contest and, indeed, were worth the admission alone.
But it was a disjointed first half from the Premier Division side as they churned through the gears in the opening stages.
And once the ‘Candy Stripes’ eased into their stride they managed to dismantle the D&D defence with devastating effect on 13 minutes.
With his back to goal, Patterson cleverly flicked the ball into the path of Enda Curran and the former Athlone striker deftly back-heeled towards McEleney who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area.
The midfielder struck the ball sweetly first time with his left foot and it nestled in the back of the net to give the Brandywell side the lead.
After the opening goal the expected onslaught failed to materialise although Patterson tested Tristar keeper, Conor Bready, with a shot from a narrow angle and McEleney scuffed an effort harmlessly wide.
The lively Mark Stewart did have the ball in the back of the net on the half hour mark when he bundled it in at the back post after Curran’s close range header was saved by the keeper, however, that effort was correctly ruled offside.
Park Bar hitman, Joe McCready, had the D&D’s only real chance of note on 32 minutes when he brushed aside the attentions of Cliff Byrne before striking low towards goal but that effort was parried clear by Doherty.
The impressive McEleney then turned provider with two minutes of the half remaining as he split the D&D defence with an incisive pass and Patterson opened up his body before placing his shot into the far corner of the net from just inside the area to double City’s lead.
And as conditions got worse so did the standard of football with the large number of substitutions on both sides having a detrimental effect on the game.
The final 45 minutes were largely forgettable but for a sublime move and finish from the ‘Candy Stripes’ youthful trio of Cormac Burke, Tony McNamee and Duffy.
Former Ipswich Town schoolboy, Burke began the move in the centre of the park and when Tony McNamee played Duffy through on goal with a delightful ball over the top of the defence, the winger slotted into the net.
The result was irrelevant, the performance underwhelming but as the March 7th Premier Division opener in Tallaght against Shamrock Rovers creeps ever closer, Collins will have a much clearer idea of his starting XI.
Derry City - Gerard Doherty (Ciaran Gallagher 77); Roddy Collins Jr., Cliff Byrne (Caomhinn Bonner 60), Ryan McBride (Thomas McMonagle 60), Aaron Barry (Dean Jarvis 57); Enda Curran, Patrick McEleney (Cormac Burke 58), Danny Ventre (S. McEleney 58), Barry McNamee (Michael Duffy half-time); Rory Patterson (Ryan Curran 53), Mark Stewart (Tony McNamee 60).
D&D - Conor Bready; Marcus O’Kane (Gareth Browne 64), James Melly, Gareth Wright, Stephen Melly;, Darren Cassidy; Darren Harkin (Brian McClean 64), Tommy McBride, Darren McCready, Brendan McDonald (Kevin Barr 68); Joe McCreadie (Aidan O’Kane 68).
Referee - Mark McGarrigle.