Mark Farren 10' -
A sizeable crowd turned out for the season opener at the Brandywell Stadium in Derry, as all over the country football fans came out of a winter’s hibernation. The usual characters were all there: the diehards, the social fans, the know-it-alls and the nervous nail-biters.
In the build up earlier the week, Stephen Kenny, the Candystripe’s manager, had asked for the supporter’s help to make the Lonemoore Road venue a fortress. While I’m not sure the fans exactly struck fear into the opposition, the manager will be happy with the three points and a clean sheet.
It was Mark Farren who found the back of the net in the eighth minute after a pass straight through the middle from Sammy Morrow. Farren rounded the keeper and slid the ball home into the bottom right corner. The home fans will be pleased to see this partnership get off to an early start as last season they showed mere glimpses of what they are capable. The fifty or so travelling supporters will be rather worried at how easily their new team was cut open.
Tommy Stewart, Sammy Morrow and Barry Molloy all had opportunites to double the lead before half time but Steve Williams the Drog’s custodian was equal to the task. At the other end, Gerard Doherty had very little to do and this will also be a cause of concern to Alan Matthews.
There was a lack of cohesion going forward and it is difficult to see where the goals may come from this season. To be fair, this is a hastily put together Drogheda team who only came out of examinership a number of weeks ago, but with so many players from last year’s First Division winning Dundalk team there will still be questions of whether they can cope with the step up in standard.
Derry also lacked a spark after their initial flurry and the midfield went missing for long periods. Barry Molloy gave a solid enough display while Tommy Stewart had pace in abundance but there were too many errant passes from both sides for this game to become the spectacle the fans so wanted.
Farren squandered two chances late on, the first after a ball squirmed through the Drogheda defence, the second after a hopeful back post cross from Ger O’Brien deceived the keeper and came back out off the cross bar. The opportunistic striker blazed both chances high and wide but to be fair either goal would have greatly flattered the home side.
Both sides will be looking to improve over the coming weeks if they are to have any impact or involvement on this league but Stephen Kenny will probably be pleased enough the win, the clean sheet and three points on the board.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Ger O’Brien, Peter Hutton, Clive Delaney, Steven Gray; Gareth McGlynn, Barry Molloy, Ruaidhri Higgins, Thomas Stewart; Sammy Morrow, Mark Farren (David Scullion 85)
Subs not used: Pat Jennings (gk), Eddie McCallion, Ciaran Martyn, James McClean.
Drogheda United: Steve Williams; Michael Clarke, Conor Kenna, Alan McNally, Robbie Clarke (Robbie Farrell 82); Jamie Duffy, Gavin Whelan, Mark Duggan, Paul Sheils, John Paul Kelly (Dave O’Connor 65); Robbie Martin.
Subs not used: Paul Skinner (gk), Ian Ryan, Paul Crowley.
Referee: Damien Hancock
Attendance: 3,100 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ger O'Brien (Derry City) - he made a great debut and will prove to be a fan's favourite in the Brandywell.