Re-Start Club Preview: Derry City

Fri, Jul 31 2020

Walter Figueira, an off-season recruit from Waterford, has been the main focal point of the Derry attack this season. Credit: John-Paul McGinley (ETPhotos)

Club: Derry City

Manager: Declan Devine

Highest league goalscorer: Stephen Mallon (2)

Current position: 7th


How we thought they would do for the 2020 season

We expected Derry to build on their strong performance in 2019, when they finished fourth and secured their return to European football.

The departure of last season’s golden boot winner Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (now of Sligo Rovers) and striker partner David Parkhouse, back to Sheffield United, saw Declan Devine’s side shed a combined 25 goals in the off-season.

The recruitment of Ireland under-21 winger Stephen Mallon (on loan from the Blades) and Walter Figueira (from Waterford) suggested Devine was aware of the need to refresh the attack.

The staff predicted a 4th place finish for the Candystripes.


How they did in the opening part of the season

After winning all of their pre-season games, Derry had a mixed opening to the season with a narrow opening-day defeat to Dundalk followed up by a 1-1 draw at home to local rivals Finn Harps, thanks to Adam Liddle’s equaliser deep in injury time.

Consistency eluded them again as their first win of the season, 2-0 at home to Bohemians, preceded a disappointing defeat away to Waterford in the final game before the shutdown.


Moment of the season so far

Liddle’s 95th-minute leveller to avoid a Brandywell humiliation against Harps is a contender for pure relief, but the performance of the season came a week later at the same venue when the Candystripes deservedly took three points from fellow European contenders Bohemians.

Derry controlled the game against a side in form but had to wait until midway through the second half for Mallon to notch his first goal in City colours. Figueira added the insurance goal in injury time as things looked set to turn for Devine’s men.


Stand out player so far this season

Stephen Mallon arrived on loan from Sheffield United in the off-season, having come highly recommended by Devine’s former management partner Stephen Kenny, who had taken the Belfast flyer into his Ireland under-21 plans.

His was the sensational solo goal that broke the deadlock in thr 2-0 win over Bohs, weaving between three tackles before finishing emphatically, and he notched his second in defeat to Waterford in the following game.


Transfers in/out prior to the restart

In: Adam Hammill (Scunthorpe United), Ibrahim Meite (Crawley Town), Jake Dunwoody (Stoke City), James Akintunde (Maidenhead United), Joe Thomson (Dunfermline Athletic).

Out: Tim Nilsen (Released), Danny Lupano (End of loan), Adam Liddle (End of loan),


What they need to do in the restart

Consistency is key for the Candystripes who, as they did in the off-season, will have to contend with significant squad changes, having lost three and brought in five over the summer.

The duo of Mallon and former England under-21 winger Adam Hammill will excite fans, while Akintunde will give competition to his compatriot Figueria down the middle but they will need to click fast with two games in four days, and the truncated season offering little room for error.


Where we see them finishing

Derry have the quality to build on last season’s success and, despite a couple of early wobbles, there is no reason why Declan Devine’s side can’t see off the competition and push to get themselves in the reckoning for the top three.


Who will they face in the FAI Cup?

The Candystripes got a bye in the first round of the Cup.


First post-lockdown league fixture

Home v Sligo Rovers (July 31st, 5.45pm).