IT'S back-to-back defeats for Cork City on their return to the Premier Division after the Rebel Army were defeated at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Friday night.
Goals from Patrick McEleney and Jordon McEneff were enough to give the hosts all three points but City will be encouraged by their display.
The Rebel Arm were much better than in their previous game against Bohs and but for a magnificent display from Derry goalkeeper Brian Maher, they could have gotten something from the match.
Colin Healy made three changes from the side that lost to Bohemains on the opening day of the season, with Darragh Crowley, Jonas Hakkinen and Ethon Varian, coming into the starting 11 in place of Tunde Owolabi, Albin Wimbo and Kevin Custovic, who all were named on the substitute bench. Cork native Adam O’Reilly missed the game for the hosts due to injury.
Unlike the Bohs game, City made a positive start against the Candystrips with Cian Coleman registering a shot just off target withinside the first 20 seconds. City were showing signs that they were up for the battle against Derry. Aaron Bolger and Ruairi Keating in particular let their presence known early in the game with some tough tackles. Although those challenges were deemed to be unfair by the referee, it was good to see the City players keen to upset the hosts.
Question marks would have been raised by the inclusion of Tobi Oluwayemi in the starting 11 after his mistake against the Gypies last week, but the Celtic loanee looked unfazed by that error. His distribution was excellent and the way in which he barked orders to his teammates to ensure they were in the right position, was quite impressive.
Despite having the majority of possession in the opening stages, Derry rarely threatened the City goal. The Rebel Army were disciplined in their defensive shape and looked the more dangerous of the two sides going forward.
Derry did go within inches of taking the lead when Jordon McEneff’s deflected strike went just wide of the City goal with Oluwayemi helpless to prevent it hitting the back of the net had the shot hit the target.
However the Derry supporters didn’t have to wait long to see their side take the lead. McEleney, who has so often been a thorn in City’s side over the past several years inflicted more hurt on the Rebel Army when he curled the ball beyond Oluwayemi in the City goal to give the home side the lead.
City almost drew level two minutes before the break but Barry Coffey was denied by Maher. Despite trailing at the break, City will have been pleased by their first-half display and would have felt a little hard done to going in behind at the interval.
City started the second half similar to the first, with Healy’s side showing a lot of ambition to get back into the game. City’s wing-backs were getting higher up the pitch and it seemed Healy had instructed his players to be more adventurous..
City’s joy was short-lived when McEneff doubled his side’s advantage. The midfielder crept into the City box before getting on the end of Graydon’s low cross to guide the ball into the City net.
Keating almost had City back in the game but was denied by Maher, before McEneff went close to adding to his tally but this time his effort hit the side net.
Maher performed heroics late on when he somehow managed to claw the ball from crossing the line after Ben Doherty had misplaced his header back to the keeper.
DERRY: Maher; Coll, Connolly, S. McEleney, Doherty; McEneff (B Kavanagh 74), Patching, P. McEleney; O’Neill (Boyce 85), Graydon, McGonigle ( C Kavanagh 74).
CITY: Oluwayemi; Gilchrist, Honohan, Hakkinen; Crowley, Coleman, Bolger, Coffey (Owolabi 80), Bargary; Keating, Varian( Krezic 70).
Referee: D McGrath