UCD AFC fell to a first half goal in the UCD Bowl on Friday night.
Airtricity League Premier Division
Friday 6th July 2012
UCD AFC 0-1 Derry City
By Ryan Bailey
UCD were once again left to rue their missed chances and bad luck as Derry City ended the Students’ good run of home form on Friday evening. The visitors ran out 1-0 winners despite Martin Russell’s charges dominating large periods of the game in extremely wet conditions in Belfield.
The home side started the game on the foot of the Airtricity League table following the withdrawal of Monaghan and after having a week off, the Students looked fresh and raring to go. Graham Rusk once again missed out through injury but David O’Connor and Chris Mulhall both started despite being doubtful before the game.
Both sides tried to get the ball down and play on the UCD Bowl surface, which was in perfect condition despite the large amount of rain which had fallen. It was the visitors who had the first sight of goal when Dermot McCaffrey’s free kick was headed narrowly wide by Ryan McBride. Then at the other end, Paul Corry’s vision nearly picked out Robbie Benson but the ball just evaded the former Athlone forward and ran through to Derry ‘keeper Ger Doherty.
John Kelly continued in goal for the Students with Ger Barron remaining on the side-lines with a troublesome toe and on a night not suited to ‘keepers, Kelly found himself in no man’s land when David McDaid broke free of the College defence but after rounding Kelly, the Derry striker was held up by Mick Leahy and denied a certain goal.
Tyrone McNelis was a constant threat down the UCD right flank and caused the visitors’ defence problems all evening and it was his mazy run and low cross which nearly provided the opening goal for Chris Lyons after half an hour but the striker couldn’t direct his effort on target from close range.
It was an opportunity that Russell’s men would rue as moments later, Declan Devine’s men hit the front. A delicate through ball by Owen Morrison found winger Stephen McLaughlin in acres of space behind the UCD defence and he slotted it past John Kelly.
The home side nearly hit back within minutes but McNelis’ cross was just too high for Lyons at the back stick. Derry could have doubled their lead on the stroke of half time but McLaughlin’s header from another McCaffrey set piece was inches wide.
As the rain continued to fall, Martin Russell introduced Samir Belhout at the interval and resorted to a 3-4-3 formation with Danny Ledwith pushing on into midfield.
The change of tactics nearly paid instant dividends as Ledwith and then Benson went close. The left back went on a mazy run from the wing before cutting inside and shooting, only to see his effort go narrowly wide off a Derry body before Benson should have done better from Lyons’ cut back.
The momentum was with the home side and encouraged on by a vocal home support, the Students just couldn’t find that killer moment despite the best efforts of the excellent Paul Corry in midfield. Samir Belhout added much needed energy up front but it was Derry who nearly doubled their lead.
Firstly, Ryan Curran dodged his way into the box but his shot was wayward from a tight angle and when it looked like McLaughlin would square to Morrison to seal the victory, John Kelly intervened to keep the Students in it.
Despite having large spells of possession, Martin Russell’s men nearly found the equaliser on the break. Lyons fed Samir Belhout on the right before crossing for the unmarked substitute Dean Clarke- In turn he flicked on for Benson but after jinking past a couple of last ditched tackles, the 20 year old couldn’t find his way past Doherty.
Derry were reduced to ten men for the last few minutes when right back Simon Madden was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence but College couldn’t capitalise despite a late onslaught which saw ‘keeper John Kelly go forward for a corner.
Robbie Benson did have the ball in the back of the net with minutes to go but the officials had deemed the ball to have crossed the end line before McNelis cut it back.
Speaking after the game, UCD boss Martin Russell was in positive mood despite the result.“We’ve conceded in the first half but in the second half we took the game to them and we’ve made their keeper make three or four great saves. We tried hard to get that equaliser but just didn’t find it. We’re disappointed with not getting any points again but it’s hard to argue with the young players when they’ve put so much effort into the game."
The decision to go three at the back just after the interval was potentially a bold move but Russell admitted it was something he needed to do in order to open the game up and search for that leveller. “We knew we had to go for it and it’s something we’ve done before and for all our effort and chances created we didn’t take them. Our forwards created a lot of chances in the game and got into great positions but on another night we could have had three or four”.
The result leaves UCD bottom of the table but are just two points adrift of Dundalk. The Students face a tricky away trip to Dalymount Park next Sunday to take on Bohemians.
UCD AFC: John Kelly; Daniel Ledwith, Mick Leahy, David O’Connor, Ciaran Nangle; Tyrone McNelis (Dean Clarke 75’),Paul Corry, Paul O’Conor, Chris Mulhall (Samir Belhout 45’), Robbie Benson; Chris Lyons
Subs not used: Mark McGinley, Barry McCabe, Hugh Douglas, Gary Burke, Tomas Boyle
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey ;, Stephen McLaughlin (Michael Duffy , Ruaidhri Higgins, Owen Morrison (Barry McNamee 59’); David McDaid, Ryan Curran (Michael Barr 86’)
ucdsoccer.com Man of the Match: Paul Corry