Kenny Shiels will have to add another fixture to the list, as his side couldn’t break down First Division outfit, Drogheda United, in their FAI Cup at the Brandywell on Friday night.
The ‘Candystripes’ started their first FAI cup match of the season fairly well with a comfortable few minutes of possession against a Drogheda side whose full focus this season will be on promotion back to the Premier Division.
But the ‘Drogs’ made it clear after four minutes they weren’t going to give Kenny Shiels side an easy game, when Aaron Ashe closed down Niclas Vemmelund before having a valiant effort at goalkeeper Gerard Doherty, who hasn’t had much to do at the Brandywell this season.
It didn’t take Derry City long to respond with their own attack when a Barry McNamee pass put Rory Patterson through on goal, but the offside flag stopped the Donegal man in his tracks.
Derry City played confidently and they were beginning to find their game. Derry’s most obvious attacking flare was coming from Barry McNamee and Joshua Daniels. The pair linked up beautifully after 14 minutes. The Donegal midfielder played a lovely pass down the wing to Daniels who was unmarked, but the local man couldn’t make anything of it and failed to get a dangerous ball across the box.
It wasn’t long before Joshua Daniels was through on goal again, but the teenager hit it straight at Stephen McGuinness, who made a textbook save.
Derry’s offensive play continued and Drogheda’s defence was struggling to come to terms with the pace Derry City were playing at. Another great opportunity came when Conor McCormack had a great chance in what looked like a certain goal, but again Stephen McGuinness pulled off another tremendous save to keep it all square.
Drogheda United were continuing to struggle with the tempo of Derry’s play and Pete Mahon’s side had nothing to offer in the final third.
The only defensive problems Derry City’s defence was being caused was the silly mistakes their own men were causing, and they paid the price for the biggest mistake after 33 minutes. Out of nowhere Drogheda took the lead. A bad pass back from Captain Ryan McBride to Gerard Doherty put Drogheda and Sam O’Connor through on goal. The number nine’s initial effort was saved by Doherty, but he made no mistake with the rebound to give his side the lead.
Kenny Shiels side almost responded straight away. A great Keith Ward cross from a corner was met by Aaron Barry who looked certain to put the ball in the top corner, but a great goal line clearance kept the score level.
It was now Drogheda who was having the better of the play. The ‘Boynesiders’ were beginning to pass the ball with confidence against a ‘Candystripes’ defence who were still coming to terms with the sucker punch Drogheda dealt them a few minutes prior.
With his side struggling to come to terms with the Drogheda goal, and the Drogs newfound relentless press, Kenny Shiels would have been glad to see the half time whistle.
After the interval Derry City regained their composure and again started brightly with two great efforts from Aaron McEneff, who hit the bar twice.
The ‘Candystripes’ were definitely looking sharper in the second half and their attacking incentive paid off when Joshua Daniels was brought down inside the area. The Referee gave the penalty, but Rory Patterson couldn’t convert on what summed up his awful night.
After an hour gone they were starting to struggle again and they were desperately trying to get into the cup-tie. The ‘Candystripes’ weren’t able to break down the Drogheda United defence and didn’t cause Stephen McGuinness any problems in front of goal for long periods play.
Although Derry were struggling Barry McNamee managed to get in, in front of goal, but the attacking midfielder completely missed the ball. Another missed opportunity for Derry City and it was beginning to look like one of those nights for Kenny Shiels side.
But it wasn’t one of those nights and Derry City were gifted another opportunity in front of goal. New addition Lukas Schubert, who was registered at 4.45pm on game day, chased down the dead ball, which was going wide, but Stephen McGuinness and Schubert seemed to collide going for the ball. Schubert went to ground softly, but Paul Tuite gave another penalty to Derry City.
Aaron McEneff, who was the only bright spark for Derry in the second half took the penalty. The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder confidently puttinh it past Stephen McGuinness to make it all square.
There was only one team going to win the game at this point and it was clear Kenny Shiels men found a bit of belief after the goal and looked a lot more vibrant in their attacks – passing the ball well.
It wasn’t to be though and the match finished all square, but the ‘Candystripes’ nearly avoided the replay when Lukas Schubert met a Joshua Daniel cross in injury time, but the Austrian could only hit the outside of the post before it went for a goal kick.
The replay will now be played on Tuesday night at United Park.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Niclas Vemmelund; Dean Jarvis; Aaron McEneff; Ryan McBride; Conor McCormack; Barry McNamee; (Conor McDermott 85) Keith Ward;( Lukas Schubert 60) Rory Patterson; Joshua Daniels; Aaron Barry
Subs not used: Shaun Patton; Ronan Curtis; Patrick McClean; Nathan Boyle; Jordan Allan
Booked: Conor McDermott
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness Stephen Dunne; Niall Cooney; Jake Hyland; Seán Brennan;( Seán Thornton 79) Sam O’Connor; (Liam Donnelly 68) Luke Gallagher; Adam Wixted; (Eoin Kirwan 55) Aaron Molloy; Aaron Ashe; Kenneth Costello
Subs not used: Patrick Dunican; Jamie McGlynn; Joe Jackson
Booked: Seán Brennan
Referee: Paul Tuite
Attendance: 1,200 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of The Match: Stephen McGuinness (Drogheda United)