PATRICK McEleney has blasted the ‘shambolic’ state of the playing surface at Brandywell Stadium, claiming the pitch is amongst the worst in the country.
The Derry City playmaker expressed his concerns over the condition of the pitch after the ‘Candy Stripes’ were held to a scoreless draw against Shamrock Rovers on Friday night.
The Shantallow man claims the pitch certainly ‘isn’t helping’ when it comes to playing free-flowing football and creating chances.
And that was clearly evident, particularly in the first half of Friday’s stalemate as both sides, who boast so much attacking talent, struggled to create anything of note.
And the sloping pitch, which hosted a Derry & District F.A. fixture on Sunday morning, less than a week before City host Bray Wanderers, is now beginning to adversely affect the players who are sustaining injuries as a result.
Indeed, City midfielder, Barry McNamee limped away from the stadium on Friday night after sustaining cuts and burns to his leg from the hardened surface following a last ditch tackle by Rovers’ defender, David O’Connor, causing him to miss out on training on Monday morning.
“I can only try my best to create chances,” said McEleney. “I’m trying to make things happen and I’m working hard for the team.
“But it’s hard on that pitch because that’s probably the worst pitch in the league,” he claimed. “It’s an absolute shambles to be honest and it’s not helping anybody. But that’s really out of our control.”
The Derry striker, isn’t the first to criticise the surface which is currently in a state of disrepair with opposition managers also unhappy after visiting the Lone Moor Road venue.
Drogheda United boss, Johnny McDonnell claimed the pitch was ‘shocking’ and doing Derry no favours at all when he brought his side to Brandywell at the end of March.
That’s probably the worst pitch in the league. It’s an absolute shambles to be honest and it’s not helping anybody. But that’s really out of our control.Patrick McEleney
And Shamrock Rovers and ex-Derry City manager, Pat Fenlon was the latest Premier Division boss to criticise the condition of the pitch and, in fairness, playing surfaces right across the League of Ireland.
“It was noticeable that players had to take two or three touches of the ball rather than the one-touch we’re used to in training,” said the Dubliner last Friday night.
“The surfaces are very poor, not just in Derry it’s right across the board and this should have been sorted out before the season kicked-off so that we can all compete on a level playing field.”
Meanwhile, McEleney, who staved his toe on the night and was substituted late in the second half of Friday’s match, claimed Derry need to start finding more of a cutting edge in the final third.
The crowd were appreciative of McEleney’s efforts to break down a resilient Rovers’ backline but he admits the Derry attack must become more ‘threatening’ to opposition defences.
“We believe in ourselves and we’ll give anybody a game at the Brandywell,” continued McEleney. “We’re a fit side and ‘Pizza’ has us well drilled and we’re enjoying ourselves and work hard for each other.
“It’s just that cutting edge we need and hopefully that will come. Apart from the Cork game, where it was one of those games we just didn’t show up and that happens to the best teams sometimes.
“Every other game we’ve played we’ve given 100 per cent and caused teams problems and we’ve been solid.
“We need to pick up points,” he added. “We need wins because there’s no point picking up draws here and there. It was a good point against Rovers in a way but we need to get more goals and be more threatening. Having said that, we’re showing a lot of character and there’s definite positives to take from it.”