Ruaidhri Higgins hails Drogheda victory as crucial to Derry City's title prospects
With Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and St. Pat's all dropping points as City made the trek back from Kazakhstan, Sunday's game took on even more importance but the Candy Stripes responded in style.
Sandwiched within the European adventure, there was a potential 'banana skin' feel to Drogheda's visit but Higgins stressed there was never any danger of Derry taking their eye off the ball as goals from Jordan McEneff, Jamie McGonigle and Michael Duffy wrapped up an impressive night's work.
"We spoke about it directly after the game in Kazakhstan," explained the Derry manager, "The players aren't silly, they knew how important this game was. If we were to try and stay in the mix we had to win and we knew that. The character of this group is brilliant. They are all very much together and willing to fight for each other and enjoying each other's company as well.
"They are good lads; really good lads who conduct themselves properly at all times so there's a real credit and respect toward them for how they have gone about things over the last few days.
"Drogheda have always been very tricky opponents. You look at their results, they’ve always gone to difficult venues and got results. To score first against them was really important and then we were able to introduce fresh legs and put the game beyond them. I was really impressed by how we went about it."
The Brandywell boss was able to make five changes from the team that started against Tobol, reflecting his confidence in a City squad that now has most of its key components back and fit.
"It shows the strength in depth we have and the contribution the bench is making in a lot of the recent games," he added, "I’m really proud of the players. They’re all pulling in the one direction. Everyone is very much part of it, and all making a huge contribution.
"Drogheda are a difficult team to play against but we could have had more goals. To be fair, Brian (Maher) has made a brilliant save at 0-0 as well, it was a key moment, but if you analyse it over the course of the whole game , we were convincing winners."