THERE’LL BE no panic buttons pressed just yet but there’s precious little time to indulge in a bedding-in period in this tough 10 team league.
And Kenny Shiels admits there’s a growing feeling of anxiety creeping into the Derry City dressing room, even at this early stage of the campaign.
The Derry boss admitted through grinding teeth that Sligo Rovers deserved their victory at the Showgrounds on Friday night after a scrappy clash between two teams desperate to get their first points on the board.
And while another away defeat is an inconvenience rather than any sort of serious setback, what will concern Shiels is how his side appeared to run out of steam in the second half for a second consecutive week while it was poor night at the office for Derry’s out-of-sorts defence which was badly exposed.
There has been mitigating factors if you take into account a severe lack of a pre-season given the inclement weather and the significant turnaround in personnel since the end of last season.
Armin Aganovic and Darren Cole appear to be Shiels’ first choice central defensive pairing but they clearly need more time to develop their partnership based on Friday night’s display where there seemed little communication between the two. And it was an open invitation for Sligo to exploit to devastating effect when Ally Roy burst through the middle and netted what proved to be the winner on 83 minutes.
Derry did have the best of the chances in the first half with striker, Ronan Hale looking sharp and he was unfortunate not to break the deadlock after a slick move which was halted by former Chelsea goalkeeper, Mitchell Beeney. In fact he produced another top save to deny Hale when turning his shot around the post at full stretch on 34 minutes.
Gerard Doherty also produced two top drawer saves from Rhys McCabe in the first half and David Cawley in the second while Rory Hale produced a brave block to deny ex-Candy Stripe, Patrick McClean a certain goal to mark his debut.
Conor McDermott’s injury enforced substitution did upset the balance in the City side as Jamie McDonagh and then Eoin Toal slotted into the right back berth but it was two defensive lapses which ultimately gave Sligo victory.
Ronan Curtis took his goal on the 89th minute superbly after a mistake by Seamus Sharkey but it was too little, too late.
It’s how you respond to defeat that matters and so Shiels will know there’s lots riding on tonight’s visit to Dalymount Park and a so far unbeaten Bohemians before games against Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers.
“I think 2-1 was a fair result,” reflected Shiels afterwards. “Being the away team you’re going to have periods in the game where the home team was on top and there was a period of that and that’s when they got their goals. We finished strong but that was us throwing caution to the wind and we got ourselves back into it but that was too late.
“You can see we’ve got good potential in the team and when we get all our players fit and ready to go I’ll be happy we can start to contest and compete with any team in the league.
“You feel that in the dressing room (anxiety) the boys are disappointed in themselves. You want to try and get the first victory if you can and we have a tough game on Tuesday night and have to make sure our preparations are good for that.”
Sligo Rovers - M. Beeney: K. Callan-McFadden, G. Boylan, S. Sharkey, P. McClean; C. McAleer ( C. Roddan 87), R. McCabe, A. Roy, D. Cawley; E. Pincelli; A. Morgan (G. Moorhouse 84); Subs Not Used - M. Schlingermann, C. Waters, A. Wixted, J. Keaney, L. Morrison.
Derry City - G. Doherty; C. McDermott (J. McDonagh 61), A. Aganovic, D. Cole, B. Doherty; Rory Hale (E. Toal 78), A. McEneff, N. Low, R. Curtis; R. Patterson, R. Hale; Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, D. Kayode, E. Tweed, C. Turner, N. Logue.
Referee - Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).