Ruaidhri Higgins laments Derry City's wasted opportunities in Riga

RUAIDHRI Higgins felt Derry City's 4-0 aggregate defeat to Riga in the UEFA Conference League wasn't a fair reflection of the contest over 180 minutes.
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The Latvians, and Brazilian No.10 Gabriel Ramos in particular, were simply more clinical in front of goal while Derry were guilty of missing three big chances during 'an exceptional' opening half hour in the Skonto Stadium.

Higgins lamented the fact Ramos was presented with three chances during the two legs and scored three goals in contrast to his side's wastefulness in front of the posts.

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Cameron McJannet's chance from an early corner was cleared off the line while Danny Lafferty and James Akintunde really could've put Derry on level terms during a blistering opening.

Ruaidhri Higgins applauds the fantastic support from Derry. Photo by Kevin Moore.Ruaidhri Higgins applauds the fantastic support from Derry. Photo by Kevin Moore.
Ruaidhri Higgins applauds the fantastic support from Derry. Photo by Kevin Moore.

It was an incredible start from the Derry team buoyed by the presence of Michael Duffy on the bench after his remarkable recovery from a broken leg sustained last March.

Higgins was disappointed to go out at the first hurdle in his first venture as manager in the continent, however, he can take plenty of encouragement from the second leg in particular.

"We knew if we were to come here and do something remarkable we had to score the first goal," said Higgins. "In that opening 30 or 35 minutes we were the dominant team and could've possibly been 2-0 up during that period. At this level against their attacking players when you don't take your opportunities it comes back to bite you in the backside and that's what happened.

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"Over the 180 minutes, Ramos the No.10 had three chances and scored three goals and that's the difference. I know the scoreline is 2-0 and 2-0 but I didn't think it was a fair reflection over the 180 minutes. That's what I believe.

"It's a completely different dynamic if we take the opportunities that were presented but ultimately we didn't and football is about putting the ball in the back of the net.

"Danny had a really good chance into the side netting as well. We had one from a set play where it was cleared off the line. During those 30 minutes the players were absolutely exceptional and our plan was working."

It's no disgrace to lose to a team who can splash out £1.5 million on a single player. And Higgins made reference to the substantial gulf in finances between the two clubs.

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"They scored against the run of play and when a player like that (Ramos) lands on the ball in the box you panic and it landed to him twice in the box and it ended in the back of the net. So that's why they pay him the big money."

Derry can take credit from the performance in the Latvian capital but Higgins isn't one for moral victories.

"I hate pats on the back for losing matches. We've lost two games and I don't think there was an awful lot in the games but you would have sat they've probably just shaded it.

"At the top end of the pitch they've got really outstanding footballers and good luck to them."