For the second successive Friday, Derry City find themselves on the road for another away day. This week’s destination is Phibsboro as they match up against Bohemians, with kick-off in Dalymount Park coming at 7:45.
Before the season began many people had Bohs down to finish somewhere around the middle of the pack come seasons end but, as per usual with Keith Long’s side, they find themselves defying expectations.
They come into the game following a scoreless draw with Waterford at the RSC last Friday.
The draw with the Blues was the first game in which they didn’t manage a goal, having scored four in their three previous games before that.
With ten points from a possible twelve collected so far this season, Bohs are aiming to usurp bitter rivals Shamrock Rovers, who sit above them at the top on goal difference but with one more game played.
The loss of Shane Supple to retirement in pre-season was a blow to the Gypsies and it left big gloves to fill in between the sticks.
This hasn’t been an issue so far however thanks to Ex-Sunderland man James Talbot. The former Ireland under-19 shot stopper has kept four consecutive clean sheets since the season opener.
He is aided by a back four consisting of their ever-reliable captain Derek Pender, summer acquisition James Finnerty, former Coventry youngster Darragh Leahy and Rob Cornwall, who once spent a period on loan at opponents Derry.
The foursome has started three out of the four games so far this season, with Leahy and Pender missing just one of those games, that being the win over UCD.
Despite their absences however, Bohs weren’t lacking in defensive depth with academy products Paddy Kirk and Andy Lyons as well as former Derry man Aaron Barry all waiting in the wings.
At the other end of the pitch, Dinny Corcoran continues to lead from the front having scored three times in four games so far this season.
The striker has only failed to find the back of the net on one occasion, that was against Waterford earlier on in the month.
Bohs don’t lack in depth up front either, aided by the returns of both Ryan Swan and Ali Regbha just before the start of the season.
Ex-UCD striker Swan came back into the squad following an injury which saw him miss all of last season, with Regbha returning from an unsuccessful trial with former Premier League champions Leicester City.
In team news, The Gypsies will be without Michael Barker (Hamstring), Christian Magerusan (Cruciate) and Promise Omochere (Ankle) while Kevin Devaney remains doubtful thanks to a knee injury.
Speaking with the club’s website, full-back Darragh Leahy looked ahead to the fixture, sizing up their opposition, stating that;
“Derry are always a tough team to play against. We beat them twice last season but like us they have a lot of new players so the challenge will be a different one.
“We’re looking forward to it. The Jodi has been packed for our two home games we’ve had so far. The atmosphere around the place has been buzzing and we want that to continue.”
Sitting just three points behind their hosts in the table, a win could see Derry leapfrog their Dublin opposition on goal difference.
The Candystripes can’t boast the same undefeated status as Bohs however, with Shamrock Rovers being responsible for handing Declan Devine his first defeat in his second stint as Derry boss in week two.
They come into this game having travelled to Turners Cross last week, returning home with a point following a nil all draw with Cork.
The north men inflicted defeats upon both Waterford and UCD in their other games, scoring three times in both occasions.
Of that combined tally of six goals, half of them have been scored by opposition players.
Own goals from Rory Feely and Georgie Poynton gave Waterford the Blues, while Liam Scales put past his own keeper in his sides 3-0 defeat.
One could call the Red and White army lucky, but they’ll be eager to prove that their wins are no fluke.
New additions in the form of on loan strikers David Parkhouse (Sheffield United) and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (Colchester) as well as ex-Bohs man Eoghan Stokes have bolstered the front line for the Candystripes.
All three will be hoping to get the nod Friday night and are eager to fire their side to the summit.
No matter which of the three start, they will have backing from the likes of the returning Barry McNamee, pre-season acquisition Greg Slogett and Ciaron Harkin in the midfield.
Derry can count four absentees for the game, the first being Patrick McClean who is out having pulled up during the warmup against Cork.
Joining McClean on the side-lines is full-back Conor McDermott, meaning that Declan Devine is going to do some shuffling around with his backline.
New signing Michael McCrudden is also absent from the squad, the ex-Institute forward suffered a broken metatarsal and is expected to be out of action for around three months.
The final name unavailable for Declan Devine is Jamie McDonagh, the winger misses out following what his manager described as a “harsh” extension to his suspension after picking up a red card in the Candystripes loss to Shamrock Rovers.
In relation to the punishment, Devine stated that; “I think he has been extremely hard done by and it will be interesting to see how other players are treated. If it’s going to be a four-game ban for a tackle, then hopefully that will be passed around the league.”
Despite this, he is still hopeful that his side can go out there and get a result. He added;
“It should be a good game. They play a nice brand of football, but we will go there and hopefully give a good account of ourselves.”
Referee: Tomas Connolly
Bohemians Evens; Draw 23/10; Derry City 5/2
Bohemians 2-1 Derry City
Injured: Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle), Christian Magerusan (cruciate).
Doubtful: Kevin Devaney (knee)
Injured: Patrick McClean, Conor McDermott, Michael McCrudden.
Suspended: Jamie McDonagh.