LIMERICK manager, Martin Russell has called on Derry City fans to be patient and has backed Peter Hutton to get the ‘Candy Stripes’ out of trouble.
The ‘Shannonsiders’ claimed a share of the spoils from Friday night’s relegation battle at Brandywell, heaping further pressure on the Derry City boss.
Russell is still confident his side are good enough to climb off the bottom of the table despite being cut 10 points adrift of Sligo Rovers. And while he believes he can save Limerick from the drop, he also claims Derry City can go on a winning run to turn their season around.
“Peter (Hutton), like ourselves, has got a lot of young players in the Derry team at the one time which is difficult. That might not have been the case in the past.
“So the Derry fans and the Board have to be patient and try and give him more resources. They were unlucky last week against Bray and they are more than capable of winning games going forward, as are we.”
Both clubs have been starved of finance and resources and have lost key players in the close season. And so Russell isn’t surprised they both find themselves battling against the drop this year.
“Derry are similar to us,” he continued. “At the end of last season I was looking at our budget and thinking ‘yes we have a chance’ but come the start of the season we have our budget reduced.
“Suddenly you don’t have the players and don’t have the resources the club had towards the end of last season.
“As far as I’m aware, Peter (Hutton) has a tough budget compared to what was there before. The bigger players will always go to the bigger budget sides.”
Limerick have yet to register a league win this season while Derry haven’t won since that 0-2 victory the last time they met Russell’s troops back in April 28th.
However, like Hutton, Russell is confident that once that elusive win comes, it could be the catalyst for change.
“We just have to keep on pushing on and hopefully by the end of the season we keep our Premier Division status,” added the Limerick manager.
“It’s a big gap between us and second from bottom. But three points could make a big difference and you’ve got to hope not too many clubs will put a run together.
“If we can get a couple of wins and stay on the coat-tails of the other clubs going into the last few games then we’ve still got it all to play for and there’s still some big three points ahead. We’ll keep going!”
Hutton claimed he was encouraged by his side’s first half display on Friday night but it proved to be the same old story as they failed to replicate that impressive performance in the second half.
The club’s failure to find the back of the net remains a major concern and Stephen Dooley’s ‘howler’ when he fluffed his lines from six yards with the goal at his mercy on the half hour mark summed up Derry’s night.
City totally dominated their opponents during the opening 45 minutes and as chance after chance went begging, heads began to drop and they struggled to raise their game on the restart.
“You can see that in their body language when they don’t take their chances,” said Hutton. “We just have to stick at it and our luck will turn. It was almost a replicate of last week (against Bray) with the amount of very, very good chances we created and didn’t take.
“It’s very disappointing. It’s two points dropped given that I thought we dominated the game.
“A number of chances were gilt-edged and we need to be taking them. The longer the game went on you could see the confidence in the players slipping away.
“There’s a lot of positives, performance-wise, particularly first half. In the second half we lost our way a bit. We were playing into a very strong breeze second half which didn’t help.
“Limerick changed it up a bit in the second half when Prince Agyemang came on and he was very affective screening the back four and that certainly helped them and he didn’t allow those through-balls into Patrick McEleney and Ryan Curran’s feet as much.
“We didn’t do as much second half but first half we were very patient and kept our composure and moved the ball about very well.”
Sligo Rovers defeat to Bohemians on Friday coupled with Derry’s point against Limerick ensured Hutton’s troops moved off the relegation play-off spot.
However, Hutton is fully aware that his side must improve in front of goal if they are to remain out of the bottom two.
“We’re still waiting on that win,” he added. “We’re not concerned about anybody else at the minute, we have to make sure we’re doing the best for Derry City.
“We have to really stick together as a group. We believe in what we’re doing but it’s important we go out and show that week in, week out and transfer that belief onto the pitch, particularly in the final third.
“I don’t think Gerard (Doherty) had very much to do and it’s in the final third we have to work a bit harder. I would be a lot more concerned if we weren’t creating chances. The fact we are creating a lot of chances shows we’re just missing the icing on the cake in terms of finishing.
“I’m pleased with a clean sheet and again we created numerous very good chances. When you don’t take your chances it affects players.”
Dooley certainly will be having nightmares about his two first half chances which could have ended the game as a contest such was Derry’s superiority. Patrick McEleney was chief tormentor throughout the opening half and he also had chances which went begging while Limerick keeper, Freddy Hall saved at McEleney’s feet on eight minutes before denying Barry McNamee with a tremendous save at full stretch on 32 minutes. It was one-way traffic with Limerick’s only real effort coming from Shane Tracy’s free-kick which didn’t trouble Doherty.
The second half was a totally different scenario with Derry forced on the back-foot. In fairness, Doherty was never tested but Derry were made to rue those missed chances from the first half as the game petered to a disappointing close.
Derry City: G. Doherty; R. Cornwall, S. McEleney, R. McBride, D. Jarvis; S. Dooley (R. Curtis 77), P. Lowry, B. McNamee, M. Timlin, P. McEleney (M. Quigley 81), R. Curran (C. Morrison 85); Subs Not Used - S. Patton, J. Daniels, S. Sharkey, A. Barry.
Limerick: F. Hall; P. O’Conor, A. Price, R. Williams, S. Tracy; R. Mann (P. Agyemang h-t), S. Duggan, J. Hughes (L. Lynch 71), S. Russell, I Turner; D. Clarke; Subs Not Used - T. Holland, S. Harding, V, Faherty, D. Rainsford, P. O’Connor.
Referee - Paul Tuite.