SPARE A thought for Anthony Elding whose brace of goals - his first in a Derry City shirt - were outshone by a piece of magic from Barry McNamee against Drogheda United on Friday night.
On another night Elding would have lapped up the plaudits as he opened his City account with two goals which helped the ‘Candy Stripes’ secure their first home win of the season.
But it was a moment of brilliance at the end of the first half from McNamee which stole the show on a night as he made his 100th appearance for the Brandywell club.
His close control and outstanding 25 yards volley on his left foot lit up the Lone Moor Road venue as it nestled in the Drogheda net with Michael Schlingermann helplessly scrambling to get back across his line.
It was technically sublime and the importance of the goal can’t be overlooked either as it gave Derry a degree of comfort at a time when Drogheda were threatening to get back into it.
Typical of the man, McNamee played down the quality of the strike, despite agreeing that it was possibly the best of his career.
It was a goal which surely branded McNamee’s name into the Airtricity Premier Division ‘Goal of the Season’ shortlist alongside Greg Bolger’s 40 yard wonder strike against Derry last Tuesday night at Richmond Park - which has already amassed over 60,000 views on ‘Youtube.’
However, the Ramelton man was quick to praise the contribution of bustling striker, Elding, who took his City tally to two goals from three appearances.
“Elding did super,” he said. “He took his penalty really well and the first goal he showed a great bit of movement to get away from the defender.
“He probably could have had a few more but I’m sure he will have been delighted to get up and running with his first goals for the club.”
The ball sat there invitingly so I couldn’t refuse the shot. It’s not like me to shoot from that far out but I had to give it a go.Barry McNamee
When pressed on his own contribution, McNamee was reluctant to bask in the limelight.
“It’s a nice goal to have,” smiled McNamee afterwards. “But it wouldn’t have mattered if we didn’t get the three points. At the end of the day that’s the most important thing.
“It’s probably right up there with the best goals I’ve scored,” he agreed. “But obviously the keeper wasn’t in his net, so that probably takes a wee bit away from it.
“I’m just happy to score and they all count so I’m happy enough to take that.”
McNamee has set himself his usual goalscoring target of reaching double figures this season and he became the fifth different Derry goalscorer from the six goals netted during the opening five games.
“I always aim for double figures and this season is no different,” he declared.
With the Brandywell support urging the midfielder to shoot once Joe Gorman’s wayward clearance found him in space and the goalkeeper in no man’s land, McNamee admitted he felt pressure to ‘have a go.’
“The ball came out to me and the keeper was nowhere to be seen so I thought I might as well have a go and luckily enough it went in” he smiled.
“I wouldn’t normally shoot from that far out but when you have an open net it’s worth a go. The keeper almost got back to it but luckily enough it went in.
“The ball sat there invitingly so I couldn’t refuse the shot. It’s not like me to shoot from that far out but I had to give it a go.”
Overall it was an impressive performance from Peter Hutton’s troops on the night and the importance of getting back on the winning trail after three games without victory wasn’t lost on McNamee.
“The main thing was to get three points but it was nice to get a goal as well,” he added. “You always want to win your home games. We were disappointed to lose to Dundalk at Brandywell a couple of weeks ago when we were well in the game.
“You have to win your home games so it’s good to get up and running now. It’s a hard start to the season with three or four away games and it was important to win our home games when they came around.”
Drogheda arrived at Brandywell intent on pressuring City’s central midfield pairing of McNamee and the impressive Philip Lowry while pressing Shaun Kelly and Aaron Barry deep into Derry’s final third.
That gameplan seemed to be working well until Elding stole a yard on his marker and stooped to head home Mark Timlin’s pinpoint cross after just nine minutes.
“After we got the first goal we sat back and invited them on a bit so we needed that second goal to get us relaxed again and luckily I got it,” continued McNamee.
“We played well in the second half and for spells at the start of the second half we invited them on a bit too much.
“But the red card and the penalty which set us up for the third goal obviously helped us settle down again.”
Indeed, that penalty incident when Josh Daniels was clumsily bundled over inside the Boynesiders’ penalty area on 75 minutes by Jason Marks who was sent to the stands for his indiscretion, put the result beyond doubt.
Elding grabbed the ball confidently and sent the resultant spotkick into the net with aplomb for Derry’s third.
The Englishman was denied his hat-trick on 81 minutes when Drogheda defender, Mick Daly nipped in front of him to head Lowry’s dangerous cross behind.
But it was a comfortable win for Hutton’s side in the end as they bounced back from that midweek 2-0 defeat to St Pat’s ahead of another difficult trip to Cork City at Turner’s Cross this Friday night.