DERRY CITY boss Kenny Shiels says his players must be brave and ‘make it happen’ as they attempt to put an end to a six game winless run when they host St Patrick’s Athletic at Maginn Park tonight (K.o. 7.45 p.m.).
The City manager, who celebrated his 61st birthday yesterday, will be hoping for a very welcome belated present from his players tonight with three much needed points.
Shiels insists he’s fed up with ‘rubbish’ excuses about luck deserting his team and has challenged his players to go out and make the most of their home advantage.
“We want to win,” he said. “We’ve worked on a lot of stuff this week and the boys are getting there. We just need those three points to get us back up the league table and we’ll be doing everything we can to achieve that this weekend.
“Limerick are a good team and we did play well second half but we have to make it happen from the first whistle. It’s not going to just happen for us, we have to make it happen.
“If we can make it happen it will give us more satisfaction,” he added. “We can’t just keep saying we were unlucky and all that rubbish, we have to start making it happen.
They (St Pat’s) probably do think it’s a good time to be playing Derry. Most teams are saying that but we’ve got to forget about how they’re thinking and think more about ourselves and make sure we’re ready for each challenge.Kenny Shiels
“We are in a position of control, we’re the home team we must make it happen - that’s the message.
“To make it happen you have to work hard, be professional and understand what your job is - all of those things are part of making it happen. And if we do that, well, we’ve got a chance of winning the match.”
The Candy Stripes have shown encouraging signs in recent matches, taking two points from games against Sligo Rovers and Limerick inside 72 hours. In both those games Derry found themselves 1-0 behind in the first half and showed good character to get back on level terms. But Shiels wants his players to start strongly against St Pat’s who he believes, will prove a stern test for his side.
The Richmond Park club haven’t won in three matches and come into the game on the back of a 3-0 home loss to leaders, Cork City but will view the visit to Buncrana as a perfect opportunity to get back on the winning trail.
“It’s like anything else, form fluctuates, it goes up and down. There’s good days and bad days and we’re getting better days as we go ahead,” said Shiels. “The boys know they need to start performing better and we’ve been doing that so we need to take it up to another level because St Pat’s are a good team and don’t suffer fools gladly. We’ve got a hard game on our hands and we know that.”
Liam Buckley was present in the stands at Maginn Park on Tuesday night watching Derry be held by Limerick and Shiels believes, like other opposition managers, the Saints boss will be rubbing his hands at the prospect of meeting an out of sorts City side.
“They (St Pat’s) probably do think it’s a good time to be playing Derry,” agreed Shiels. “Most teams are saying that but we’ve got to forget about how they’re thinking and think more about ourselves and make sure we’re ready for each challenge.Football is a challenge, it’s like life and is a challenge within your life and we’ve got to make it happen. We need to be more creative in the last third and that’s what we’re working on.”
Midfielder, Barry McNamee made a welcome return to the starting XI for the midweek clash against fourth placed Limerick, netting a sublime equalising free-kick in the second half.
And while Shiels is delighted the Ramelton man is back in the team after injury, he’s uncertain if McNamee’s midfield partner, Aaron McEneff will be involved following a family bereavement.
“We’re hoping to get Aaron McEneff back soon which will help us and Rory Holden is on his way back so we’re starting to get some of our players back which is good.”