Qualifying for European football next season is a real possibility for the Candy Stripes with 10 games to go as they sit just four points behind third placed Sligo Rovers.
However, Junior felt the dramatic draw against the club’s Donegal rivals was an opportunity lost given the chances they created and their dominance throughout much of the fixture. City substitute Jamie McGonigle was denied three times by brilliant saves from an inspired Mark Anthony McGinley who later saw red after a fracas with Thomson in stoppage time. Derry dug deep to clinch a late point but Junior’s overriding emotion after the match was one of disappointment given the amount of chances the home side had wasted.
“It’s just very disappointing we didn’t get the win even though we had a lot of chances,” said the Londoner, “On a different day it could easily have been 3-0 or 4-0 but it didn’t happen like that. Their keeper did well and it was just one of those games where we were pushed on and they got half a chance and scored. They must’ve had two shots and scored two goals, it was just crazy.
“I still felt we could’ve gone on and won it. It was really frustrating not to come away with three points. At the end when we were chasing the game, I suppose you could say it was positive to get a point but it could’ve been a lot different.”
Junior rose majestically to head home Thomson’s pinpoint cross after just 19 minutes to cap what had been an impressive start by the Brandywell outfit and he was delighted to get on the scoresheet.
“It was a great ball by Joe and thankfully I timed my jump right and we got the goal. It was good play from the team just before that. I’m happy to get a goal but obviously not happy with the result.
“As a striker I obviously practice scoring all different types of goals, left foot, right foot and thankfully today I’ve scored with my head. It’s exciting to play in these games,” he continued. “The atmosphere was great and the fans were great. I just wish we could’ve given them a win.
“Harps are a tough team to break down. They beat Shamrock Rovers recently as well so it’s always going to be tough playing against them. But we could’ve beaten them easily tonight.
That happens in football and we have to go again now next week.”
The former Sligo Rovers man was in the thick of the action when Thomson attempted to retrieve the ball before a melee ensued with both sets of players during stoppage time. So what was his interpretation of events?
“To be fair, we scored and tried to get the ball back and one of their players just lay there and put his body on top of the ball. We tried to get it off him and it turned into a bit of a brawl. It happens in football. I don’t know what exactly happened and I’ve no idea why he’s given two red cards.”
Since Ruaidhri Higgins took over at Derry, the league table has changed dramatically and based on the 20 matches the Limavady man has overseen as City boss, the Brandywell club would be sitting in second with 36 points. Indeed, only current leaders Shamrock Rovers have accumulated more points with 42 during the same time-frame. Junior believes ‘everything is positive’ at Derry at present and admits the changing room is in a good place with the promise of achieving ‘big things’ in the near future.
“I’ve seen Derry are obviously looking to do big things in the future and bringing players like Patrick McEleney here is a great plus. So they’re looking to do big things and with players like Bastien (Hery) coming here on loan, you can see everything is positive and the changing room is all good.”