Good Will chasing a big performance against Rovers
Derry City midfielder Will Patching admits his side’s trip to Tallaght to take on defending champions Shamrock Rovers is a massive encounter which the Candystripes cannot afford to lose.
Rovers host Derry in a match live on RTÉ2, coming from past them to the top of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division on Monday, with just one point separating the teams now.
The league is yet to reach its midpoint, but already the league looks like a two-horse race with Rovers and Derry already far ahead of the chasing pack.
Derry emerged victorious the last time the two sides met in February thanks to a 95th-minute winner from Jamie McGonigle and Patching will be hoping to see a repeat performance to reclaim top spot.
“It’s a huge game and I hope we get three more points like we did last time,” he told RTÉ Sport.
“There’s still a long way to go in the season and I’m sure both teams (will) have drops, but I guess it can come down to nice margins, so in a way it’s a game that we can’t afford to lose.”
Derry will need to improve on his most recent form if he is to get the better of Rovers.
The Candystripes have seen a six-point lead at the top vanish and top the table in the clash after two disappointing draws against St Patrick’s Athletic and Bohemians.
Goals, which have flowed freely for Derry for much of the season, have dried up in those two games but Patching isn’t too worried, insisting his side played well and the goals will follow.
“It’s been really strange because the performances have been good,” he said. “The games against Pat’s the other day were probably the best we’ve played all season.
“Maybe in the last third we just lacked that extra quality that we need to put one away and how it works when you come in, usually a few more follow after.
“We just struggled to get first in the last two games, but the performances have been good.”
While Derry may have stumbled of late, Rovers are ominously hitting their stride with seven wins and one draw in their last eight games.
Even when things don’t go their way, Stephen Bradley has the team depth to turn things around quickly like he did on Monday when four half-time substitutes went from 0-0 down. to a 3-1 win thanks to a Graham Burke hat. – fool.
Burke was one of the foursome featured at the break and Patching admits the depth of the Rovers squad presents a challenge for Derry.
“They bring Burke on at half-time and he hits a hat-trick in the second half,” he said of Monday’s result. “They have a lot of good players on and off the bench, so it’s hard to prepare against that.
“We’re going to focus on ourselves and where we can hurt them, so no matter who they put there, at least we have an idea of what we can do.”
As well as focusing on Derry’s approach, Patching has been happy with the way he has done this campaign and with seven goals to his name before the middle of the season he feels well placed.
“I feel like I got off to a good start,” he said. “One thing I want to do since last season is to score more league goals and I have done that so far.
“Last season when I was at Derry I scored six goals in the first half of the season and went back to Dundalk and scored in Europe but didn’t score in the league for the rest. of the season.
“One thing I want to maintain is to continue to be on the scoresheet, to continue to try and help and help my team and to keep my consistency throughout the season.”
With the midfielder looking no further than Friday’s clash with the champions, the prospect of European football looms on the horizon for Derry.
The Candystripes kick off their Europa Conference League campaign in July and for Patching, the prospect of European experience is one of the biggest draws for the League of Ireland.
“Europe is a different ball game with the way teams prepare against you. The game plan is different and there are a lot more tactical and technical elements involved.
“For players like me, it’s a bit more suited to the game and hopefully we can have a good run this year.
“European football with Derry is huge, that’s another big thing about the league, the chance to play in Europe that you don’t get in a lot of English football.
“I think that’s one of the main attractions for players outside of Ireland. If you finish in the top four, then look at Dundalk and teams like that going into the group stages. C is a great platform to put yourself on.”
Will Patching was speaking at the launch of the FAI and SSE Airtricity’s sustainability campaign for Irish football with GreenCode.
Watch Shamrock Rovers v Derry City in the SSE Airtricity League live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player on Friday evening (7.45pm) or follow via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the RTÉ News app