In what was the cliched game of two halves, Derry City stormed back from a half time deficit to dump Irish League champions Linfield out of the Setanta Sports Cup 3-1 at a packed Brandywell stadium on Tuesday night. Goals from Barry Molloy, Stephen McLaughlin and the excellent Simon Madden cancelled out Philip Lowry’s first half strike for the Blues.
Derry started the match quicker and almost opened the scoring in the first minute as Simon Madden whipped in a dangerous cross which Linfield stopper Blayney struggled to deal with. Derry continued to attack a seemingly shell shocked Blues team and had various half chances through McLaughlin, Higgins and Farren.
In the 16th minute, veteran defender William Murphy went into the book for a late tackle on McLaughlin. As the half wore on Linfield began to come more into the game and had forced a couple of corners, but in the 31st minute some poor defending allowed Philip Lowry to play a one-two with Thompson through the middle before dispatching an easy finish past a helpless Gerard Doherty.
This spurred the away team into action and as they pressed both Derry’s Ryan McBride and Linfield’s Michael Carvill entered the whistlers notebook for late tackles. Just before the half closed Jim Ervin sent in an inch perfect cross but Peter Thompson somehow failed to fully connect and Derry ended the half firmly on the back foot.
Whatever Declan Devine and Paul Hegarty said at half time worked a treat as Derry came out at a higher tempo. They sacrificed defender Eddie McCallion for the mercurial Patrick McEleney, and he immediately took the game by the scruff of the neck. The next 20 minutes was end to end without a clear cut chance and Barry Molloy and Philip Lowry added to the growing list of cautions.
Then, in the 67th minute, Derry conjured up a wonderful equaliser. Patrick McEleney hit a 50 yard cross-field ball which was chased by Simon Madden who whipped it in first time and Barry Molloy was there to power a header in from 12 yards, giving Blayney no chance.
This seemed to give added impetus to Derry whilst their opponents seemed to be tiring. Owen Morrison came on and was almost immediately booked for a high foot. In the 76th minute Mark Farren wasted a glorious opportunity to put Derry ahead when he was clean through and beat the keeper but managed only to scuff his shot when it seemed easier to score.
Only a minute later, however, Derry had the lead. Once again a Madden cross found Mark Farren in the centre and he just helped it on to the incoming Stephen McLaughlin who hit a powerful drive past a despairing Alan Blayney. There was a flashpoint in the 88th minute when Michael Gault seemed to kick out at McEleney off the ball, but the ref deemed a yellow as sufficient punishment.
In the last few minutes Linfield threw everything forward and were caught on the break as McEleney released man of the match Madden who bore down on Blayney before placing the ball in the bottom corner, much to the delight of the Brandywell faithful. The referee then blew the final whistle sending Derry deservedly through to the semi finals 4-2 on aggregate.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Eddie McCallion (Patrick McEleney ‘46), Stewart Greacen, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey; Simon Madden, Barry Molloy(c), Ruaidhri Higgins, Stephen McLaughlin; David McDaid (Owen Morrison ‘66), Mark Farren.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Matthew Crossan, Brian McGroary, Michael Barr, Ryan Curran.
Bookings: Ryan McBride, Barry Molloy, Owen Morrison.
Linfield: Alan Blayney; Albert Watson (Stephen Douglas ‘60), William Murphy, Jamie Mulgrew, Jim Ervin; Michael Gault (c), Robert Garrett, Damien Curran (Gary Browne ‘80), Michael Carvill; Philip Lowry, Peter Thompson (Mark McAllister ‘71).
Subs not used: David Armstrong, Billy Jo Burns, Daryl Fordyce, Stuart Addis.
Bookings: William Murphy, Michael Carvill, Philip Lowry, Michael Gault.
Referee: Tomas Connolly.
Attendance: 3,500 (estimate).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Simon Madden (Derry City). Outstanding display.
Jamie Mahon joined the Extratime team at the beginning of 2011. Hailing from the North West, Jamie reports on all things Derry City. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @JamieMahon23.