SUPPORTERS at Brandywell Stadium have been ‘spoiled’ with goals this season but surely Derry City fans will have no complaints after Friday night’s pulsating stalemate with Shamrock Rovers.
Kenny Shiels, who felt his side ‘sold themselves short’ pointed out afterwards it was the first time his side have failed to score in the past six months.
If we take into consideration the close season, it’s been more like three - the 3-0 loss to Sligo on October 21st - but an impressive statistic nonetheless!
For those lucky enough to be part of a special Brandywell atmosphere since the long awaited return home last March, there’s been 16 goals scored by the Candy Stripes in five games prior to Friday night’s blank.
City were up against a team which shipped six past them at Tallaght and while Rovers now gone six games without a win, that particular stat is deceiving. The Hoops boast one of the most potent attacks in the league and any team which brings the likes of Brandon Miele, Gary Shaw and former Sheffield United midfielder, David McAllister off the bench, simply has an embarrassment of riches.
However, it was a brave effort by City who battled for a fourth clean sheet of the season despite being under the cosh for much of the match. And considering the way other results went on the night, there was no harm done. In fact Shiels’ troops have gained ground on Dundalk who they now trail by just five points with a game in hand.
Derry will be quite pleased with the point they did superbly well to secure against a Rovers team which was wasteful in front of goal and which really should’ve taken three points back to south Dublin.
Gerard Doherty made a fantastic save to parry Dan Carr’s close range strike onto the crossbar six minutes into the second half while Graham Burke - scorer of four goals against City in Tallaght - smashed an effort off the underside of the bar on 68 minutes.
Aaron Bolger was clean through and screwed his effort wide of the mark while Miele volleyed inches wide in a frantic end to the game.
It was an off night for a blunt Derry attack admitted Shiels afterwards but considering his side were under the cosh for much of the game he’ll be inwardly delighted with the share of the spoils.
Most fans and pundits would be forgiven for expecting goals galore considering both teams had four players in the league’s top 10 goalscoring charts in Burke, Aaron McEneff, Ronan Curtis and Ronan Hale.
Derry are the league’s joint top scorers with Cork and Dundalk on 24 goals. Rovers aren’t far behind with 20 but struggle to score on the road despite their enviable firepower.
So while the fans have enjoyed watching sides like Bray, Limerick and even Waterford being ruthlessly dispatched with an exiting brand of football, a scoreless draw with Rovers may be considered by some as a failure or a ‘disappointment’.
The 3,000 strong attendance may have built a sense of entitlement for goals and wins but they’re a knowledgeable bunch and will no doubt have gone home happy to have got over the line against one of the top teams in the country with the impressive unbeaten record extended to NINE.
The nasty head injury sustained by Ronan Curtis, the six minutes Derry were down to 10 men and the enforced substitution of one of the team’s biggest goal threats, did disrupt the home side’s flow and deprived them of an attacking outlet on the left flank.
Shiels will have been disappointed his side failed to trouble Rovers keeper, Kevin Horgan and apart from Rory Patterson’s first half chance when he got onto the end of Jamie McDonagh’s cross from the right and fired the wrong side of the post, they rarely threatened.
The perfect record at Brandywell may have come to an end but two points from back-to-back games against Dundalk and Rovers isn’t to be sniffed at!