In form Pats are 'a different animal' says Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins
RUAIDHRI Higgins has described St Patrick’s Athletic as a ‘different animal’ from the team Derry City rolled over in a 4-0 thrashing in Inchicore last April.
The Brandywell outfit were 3-0 ahead by the half-time interval, stunning Tim Clancy’s side on their home patch as Derry laid down a marker in Dublin.
Of course just 10 days later St Pat’s travelled to Foyleside and frustrated Derry in a 0-0 draw, producing a rigid defensive display to avoid a repeat of that heavy defeat at home.
Five months later and the ‘Super Saints’ are much changed, boasting five consecutive league victories as they look to book their place in Europe next season.
The Dubliners go into the game in fourth but despite having a game in hand over third place Dundalk, whom they trail by two points, they can ill afford to slip further behind.
It’s a meeting of the league’s two form teams and one which excites Higgins but he’s not expecting his team to blast away the opposition as easily as they did on their last visit to the Emmet Road venue.
The City boss, who is seeking a seventh successive win in all competitions to keep pace with Shamrock Rovers at the top, has emphasised that his charges face a significantly improved and dangerous St Pat’s tonight.
“Pats are in great form,” he stated. “We’re also in good form so it makes for a good game. Both teams have come on and got better as teams.
“The 0-0 game against Pat’s at Brandywell was as good as we’ve played all season,” he claimed. “If we had taken a couple of chances we should’ve taken it would’ve probably gone down as a better performance than the one in Inchicore.
“If we can put on anywhere near that type of performance again I would be absolutely delighted. But they’re a different team now, a different animal, and we have to be ready for them and have a go.
“We’ve been good against them but they’ve changed. They’ve changed their system, they’ve changed their personnel. It’s going to be an extremely tough game but we’re excited about it and hoping to go down there and put on a show.”
Mark Doyle and skipper Chris Forrester are in a rich vein of form and will pose a serious threat to Derry’s defence which has been so solid of late.
“A good side like that at home, they’re going to have a period in the game. We need to be prepared for them. We will try and get a massive three points.”
It certainly would be a massive three points which would increase the gap between the two sides to 10 points with five games remaining. A win would all but rubber-stamp Derry’s place in European competition next season barring an absolute collapse.
And with Shamrock Rovers not playing until tomorrow, it’s a chance to ramp up the pressure on the Hoops by closing the gap at the top to two points.
“That would be huge, no doubt about it, but we’ve a lot of work to do to achieve that. It’s a ground we like playing in. It’s a brilliant venue. The crowd’s on top of you and it’s a good pitch and two good sides having a go.”