KENNY Shiels believes his side are disadvantaged for being incapable of ‘cheating’ the way, he claims, ‘most of the clubs in this league do’.
The Derry City boss, who celebrated his birthday on Friday night, claimed the nasty head injury sustained to Ronan Curtis on 20 minutes was a contributing factor in his side’s disjointed performance.
The winger required several stitches to his head after a clash with Rovers right-back, Ethan Boyle which eventually ended his night prematurely. But Shiels was frustrated with Curtis who walked off the pitch to receive treatment on the gash on the back of his head rather than bringing the game to a halt.
The Candy Stripes were down to 10 men for just over six minutes as Rovers began to turn the screw and when Curtis eventually came back on, he was quickly taken back off as a precaution.
Shiels felt that period in the game knocked Derry out of their stride and allowed Rovers to take control of the match. And while Shiels refused to use that as an excuse, he was certain it affected the game. He felt Curtis should’ve been cuter and stayed on the pitch to receive treatment rather than walking towards the bench.
“I thought they shaded it if you’re looking at it from a neutral perspective but there were contributing factors,” said Shiels. “Our players don’t know how to cheat which is amazing. He (Curtis) got an elbow to the head and needed quite a few stitches and he walks off the pitch and that’s just naivety. He’s not on his own because a lot of our young players don’t know how to cheat, don’t know how to lie down and roll over like most of the clubs in this league do. But our players don’t know how to do those sort of things. We try to teach them not too because it’s not good for the game.
“Ronan walks off the pitch whereas he could’ve got treatment on the pitch so as a result of that we played quite a long period with 10 men. It definitely disrupted the flow of our play. I don’t think anyone can deny that. But that’s not an excuse. We just weren’t ourselves.
“There was a disruption in the game with the injury to Ronan Curtis and you can’t overlook that. We haven’t got a lot of depth in our squad and we’ve got to get through to July to try to add to that.
“Losing Ronan and playing with 10 men the players are shouting to me ‘why isn’t he on the pitch’ when he was having to get stitches. And that took us out of our stride. When you lose momentum, to recover momentum in any sport is very, very difficult. We lost that momentum during that period and honestly we struggled to get it back until the final whistle.”
While Shiels was disappointed his side failed to reproduce the scintillating form they’ve shown at Brandywell over recent weeks, he was pleased to keep Rovers at arm’s length.
“We’ve been spoiled here in the Brandywell. To not score is a strange feeling for everybody. A win for Shamrock Rovers would’ve pulled them right up alongside us, whereas a draw means we both dropped two points and quite a number of teams dropped two points tonight.”