DERRY CITY chairman Philip O’Doherty’s call for fans’ loyalty and improved attendances in the wake of a threatened boycott of the Europa League qualifier certainly wasn’t heeded on Friday night.
That could’ve been down to a tasty World Cup clash between Brazil and Belgium or simply a consequence of the beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying and a preference to hit the beach or the family holiday home.
Banners unveiled by supporters in the Southend Park Stand read: ‘We’re not boycotting, we’re just working class’ in response to the increased prices for the European tickets which hasn’t gone down well despite the club’s best attempts at a compromise.
The message from supporters on social media echoed those at the stadium. ‘Stop out-pricing fans’; ‘Football without fans is nothing’; ‘Football supporters don’t have bottomless pockets.’
It’s fair to say that O’Doherty’s statement hasn’t been well received by some of the club’s loyal supporters!
For the regulars who did opt to stay away let’s hope it’s because of the aforementioned reasons and not an ominous statement in the wake of criticism from the chairman.
Some of them pay £100 to go and watch Manchester United. Oh my God! If you make comparisons and they take their kid with them it’s nearly £200 to go and watch the likes of that.Kenny Shiels
It was a really poor turnout and hopefully not a precursor for Thursday’s visit of Dinamo Minsk because this new-look Derry team will need the backing of the club’s supporters if they’re to keep the tie alive for the return leg in Belarus next week.
Kenny Shiels reiterated Mr O’Doherty’s concerns about recent paltry attendances and made comparisons with those local fans who are prepared to cough up hefty prices to travel to watch the likes of Manchester United.
When asked about the unveiling of the banner, Shiels responded: “I wasn’t watching what was displayed, I don’t know what it was. It was outside my realm I don’t look at those things. It was a really good performance. One in which everyone leaves thinking ‘what a really good game to watch’.
“Some of them pay £100 to go and watch Manchester United. Oh my God! If you make comparisons and they take their kid with them it’s nearly £200 to go and watch the likes of that. So I think the crowd should be very pleased with what they’ve seen tonight.”
And the City boss urged supporters to come out in numbers to get behind his players.
“These players are young players and need the crowd to get behind them. We didn’t have the numbers tonight and I just wish we could get the crowd we had back again because apathy is a mechanism which can be distorted in so many ways. I hope the crowd can start coming back in their numbers to watch a good brand of football.”
For those who did attend there were encouraging signs and a fresh enthusiasm following the additions of FOUR new faces.
It was a bold move from Shiels to field three debutantes and Ben Fisk who was making his Brandywell debut while dropping regulars, Rory Patterson and Ronan Hale to the bench.
It’s an injection of energy and competition for places which might well resuscitate a season which threatened to flatline. The Board has backed Shiels with more firepower. And for all that’s been said about Shiels’ failure in the transfer market this year, at first glance he appears to have come good with the additions of Ally Roy and Aaron Splaine who both netted on their debuts; the experienced centre half, Dan Seaborne and the pacy Fisk who is certainly a threat in the final third.
With so many new players Shiels took a risk in the hope they would gel together quickly and it ultimately paid off. The most pleasing aspect, however, was that it was the first time the Candy Stripes have come from behind to clinch three points this season which showed character during a particularly testing period.
It must be said that Limerick could have taken home a point if it wasn’t for an outstanding save from Gerard Doherty at the death and a horrendous miss by Barry Maguire following an equally horrendous mistake involving Doherty and Splaine when attempting to play out from the back. While there was plenty to admire on the night and lots of promise from City’s new signings, there was also stark reminders of the team’s defensive frailties which has left them hamstrung in recent weeks as they looked susceptible to the counter attack.
Derry have the THIRD worst defensive record in the Premier Division behind Bray (60) and Limerick (46) with 44 goals conceded after 25 matches! On Friday night Shiels fielded his SIXTH central defensive partnership of the season. Suspensions, injuries and experimentation has resulted in a lack of consistency and cohesion at the back.
On Friday night it was a job well done. A return to winning ways and a valuable victory which closes the gap on Shamrock Rovers to just a single point. It was good to go into the Europa League games with a much needed league win and hopefully, with the fans’ full backing, City can qualify for the competition for a third successive year under Shiels.