"No matter who we play here we should be expecting to win!" - Ruaidhri Higgins hoping for Brandywell lift-off
RUAIDHRI Higgins believes Derry City should be taking advantage of home comforts and ‘expecting to win’ games at Brandywell as the Candy Stripes prepare to host Longford Town tonight. (K.O. 5.45p.m.)
It’s become a familiar narrative for the Brandywell club in recent months having won just three times on home soil during the past 12 months and the absence of a 12th man on the sidelines certainly hasn’t helped.
Higgins’ Brandywell bow as City boss ended in late disappointment last Monday night as Finn Harps snatched an 89th minute winner to break the hearts of the home team.
The quick turnaround in fixtures presents a chance to bounce back and finally get the team’s home campaign up and running at the sixth time of asking this season.
“It’s another opportunity at home to try and get the three points,” stated Higgins.
“Although it was a set-back on Monday night, we have to use that to our advantage coming into the game on Friday.
“We kept going right until the end against Finn Harps and hit the woodwork three times in the game.
“The players have real courage and I think our home form will turn soon. We just need to come here with the right focus and determination to win the game.
“This is a big football club,” he added. “It’s a great ground to play your football in. No matter who we play here we should be expecting to win and enjoy the responsibility of trying to win at home as well.
“It’s a big thing and it gives the supporters around Derry something to really get behind and cheer us on.”
Despite the well documented home form, Higgins goes into tonight’s game seeking to make it nine points from a possible 12 under his stewardship, but he’s expecting a tough test of his team’s resolve against a Longford side who have shown they are more than a match for any team in the division.
“Longford are a really well organised team with good players at the top end of the pitch that can hurt you in any given moment,” warned Higgins.
“You look at the Dundalk result where they drew but even the game in Tallaght, it took Shamrock Rovers until the 93rd minute to win it so we’re under no illusions.
“It’s going to be a very tough test but we also know that if we play to our maximum potential then we can win the game.
“The Longford game is a big game but we’re only one series in. There’s a lot of football to be played but we will come here trying to give everything we have to win the game.
“Listen, if we did manage to have a favourable result then it would be a good start but we really need to focus on every detail, every aspect of the game and we know if we’re not prepared or you drop your levels by 5% or 10% then any team in this league will turn you over. We need to come here fully focussed on the job at hand.”
Daire Doyle believes Derry City will have a ‘point to prove’ at Brandywell tonight but the Longford boss wants a repeat of the performance which saw his team clinch an opening day win over the Candy Stripes.
Longford held Dundalk to a 2-2 draw in their last outing at Bishopsgate Stadium last weekend and he hopes that will give his team the confidence to clinch a second win of the season over Derry.
“Obviously Ruaidhri (Higgins) has come in and they’ve had a good couple of good results. You are going to get that little bounce from a squad,” said Doyle.
“They didn’t have a good start to the season. There is no hiding from that. He has got a reaction from the group. I’m sure they will look at what we’ve done to them in the previous meeting and feel they have a point to prove. We are no different.
“We say to the lads every single week, we are here in this Premier Division and we need to prove a point because if we don’t we won’t continue to be here.
“What we do have is a group that believes in what we want. We belong in the top flight. We believe we can put in the performances and get the results to achieve that aim,” stated the defiant Doyle.
Higgins is all too well aware of the league newcomers’ attacking threats but he hopes his own strikers can turn up on the night.
“Their front three are an absolute handful and we have to be prepared for that. They’ve got players who can do something out of nothing all over the pitch, particularly in forward areas. But we’ve got good players at the top end of the pitch in our squad as well so we will be hopeful they can express themselves.”
Higgins was delighted to see James Akitunde get off the mark with a terrific strike against Harps on Monday night and he hopes his strikers can take inspiration from the newly unveiled Mark Farren mural at the entrance of the stadium’s dressing room area.”James has been brilliant since I’ve come in the door and I’m sure he’s been good previously as well.
"From my own experience with James Akintunde, he’s been a breath of fresh air. He’s been really, really good in his general play and it was good to see him get off the mark the other night.
“I would be delighted if David Parkhouse or James Akintunde could put in a Mark Farren performance tomorrow night and get us a goal or two - that would be great,” smiled the Derry boss.”