ANTHONY Elding has history with Derry City, history that was both hurtful and helpful!
The striker represented Sligo Rovers at the start of the 2012 campaign and made his presence felt in his competitive debut with the game’s only goal - a devastating blow to the “Candy Stripes” as the Declan Devine managed squad did not deserve to lose that fixture.
Roll on to the end of the following season, 2013, and Elding was again on the mark. This time in the FAI Cup final against Drogheda United, his goal presenting the “Candy Stripes” with another trip into the Europa League as the “Bit O’Red” had already qualified through the league campaign.
And having entered the fray against Institute in the annual Billy Kee Memorial Cup game at the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday night, Derry’s first team coach, Marty McCann, was convinced that the physically strong hitman completed the Derry City jigsaw.
Holding the reins of the team which featured against Institute due to Peter Hutton’s participation in his Pro-Licence Badge in Dublin this week, McCann was delighted with the Englishman’s contribution.
“Hopefully, he will develop into something of a lucky charm for us,” laughed Marty.
“He was the talk of the league when joining Sligo and scoring that goal against us in the first game didn’t do him any harm,” noted McCann.
“But he not only gives us options in the front line, he could also prove a vital link in our development of younger players.”
Elding was forced on after just 15 minutes when another new signing, Cillian Morrison, sustained a slight thigh strain and McCann refused to take any chances.
“Anthony was ready and willing and he almost scored with his first touch. I felt he did really well having scored a goal, but his first touch and his link-up play was excellent.
“He’s kept himself in good nick. He’s physically strong and very keen to get back to training on a daily basis, the part-time game frustrated him as he has grown up in full-time football,” continued the Derry coach.
“He hit the ground running which was good. He linked well with Stephen Dooley, Philip Lowry, Ryan Curran and Josh Daniels before tiring after almost 45 to 50 minutes which was expected.
“However, I really believe he could prove to be a major asset in regards to educating the young players around him.
“I believe he’s a good acquisition who offers us so much experience having played in the Championship in England. He goes about his work very well and our young players can only learn from him.”
With the “Candy Stripes” expected to play with energy and enthusiasm this season, McCann insists that the signing of a physically strong hitman could prove highly significant.
“Yes, we do like to play with great energy and intensity but having noted Anthony’s first touch and ability to hold the ball up, we have so many young players who are capable of feeding off him.
“He really does bring quite a few options to our table and, fingers crossed, he could again be the ‘talk of the league’ in 2015,” claimed Marty.
Reflecting back on the match which Derry won 3-0 thanks to first half strikes from Stephen Dooley, Elding and Curran, McCann felt it had been an accomplished performance.
“Obviously 3-0 up at half-time it was comfortable, but everything is beginning to click into gear for us.
“We have young players working really hard, wanting things to happen for them which is great.
“Everyone is aware that first team jerseys are there to be won this season. People will get opportunities and I felt we were excellent against Institute.
“We have assembled a very good group which has developed a good work ethic and while we will, obviously, be more seriously tested come March 6th, I think we’re getting there.
“There’s no pressure, just hard work ahead.”