DISAPPOINTED not to have won Friday night’s encounter, Peter Hutton continued to heap praise on his playing staff, their fitness levels tested again last weekend.
Indeed, Hutton reflected back on what was a long trip to Cork, followed by extra-time in a League Cup tie on Monday against Sligo Rovers.
“We used, more or less, the same XI which played in Cork and in Sligo last weekend,” noted the Derry boss.
“Rovers had a totally different team playing in their midweek League Cup clash, so I expected them to be fresh while the worry over our lads was tiredness, but they stood up to what was a tough physical challenge and that’s testament to their fitness levels,” added a delighted Derry boss.
“Each and every one of them stood up and was counted and while I am a little disappointed that we didn’t manage to sneak the win as we created the better chances, I was delighted with the effort put in.
“I am immensely proud of them. They displayed a great work ethic and even got stronger as the game wore on.
“It was always going to be a tough game for us, but we matched Rovers and I made it clear that we are capable of competing with any team in this league, provided we stand up and be counted.
“As a small squad, we really can’t afford to be carrying passengers. We did that in Cork and struggled, but against Rovers every player stood up to the challenge and competed well.”
On the claims for panalties, given those two last ditch tackles on Barry McNamee (pictured left), on both sides of half-time, Hutton had no complaints.
“The defender did well in the tackle in the first half to get a good touch on the ball.
“I was well positioned for the tackle in the second half and I think it was superbly timed, so I don’t have any problem with the referee’s decision on either challenge,” answered Hutton.
And when questioned on the sending off of Keith Fahey, the Hutton also agreed with the referee’s decision.
“To be quite honest, I felt Keith Fahey was very fortunate not to have been dismissed earlier, following what I felt was an over-robust tackle in the centre of the park.
“One or two Rovers players starting diving when inside the area, attempting to con the referee, so it was very important that he got it right.
“We expected a physical challenge so the referee had to be on top of things and while he had a tough game to deal with, I think he handled it very well.”
Would he have taken a share of the spoils before the kick-off?
“Yes and no. Yes, because I knew that they would be totally changed from the team that played in the League Cup. I also knew they would be physical and given that we were about to play three games in the space of eight days, I was worried. We also had a few walking wounded before the match started.
“However, once the match kicked-off and I realised that our fitness levels were excellent given the way we played in the second half, I would say no, as I felt we could win the game.
“And I’m disappointed we didn’t take the three points because we dominated the small amount of scoring chances that had been created.
“Disappointed yes, but I’m happy to go back into a normal week but with Bray Wanderers at the Brandywell on Friday, we then have another long trip to Limerick for a league match next Monday night,” concluded Hutton.