DECLAN DEVINE claimed losing striker, Conor Davis to injury in the warm-up against UCD proved to be a 'sucker punch' as his pre-match game-plan 'went out the window'.
The ex-UCD frontman sustained a groin injury moments before kick-off and was replaced by Gerardo Bruna who himself had been carrying a knock and was rated doubtful for the match.
With the Argentine slotting into central midfield, Ciaron Harkin was elected to play in the No. 10 role behind striker, David Parkhouse but the late change of tactics clearly had an effect on the home side who made a sluggish, disjointed start to the game.
"It was a sucker punch for us because we had worked all week on our shape and playing with Conor as a No. 10 and joining in with Parkhouse as an extra striker so that was a sucker punch for us," said Devine.
"And you could see that in the first five or 10 minutes because our game-plan went out the window then."
With the injured Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe rested as a precaution, Derry lacked that cutting edge and ultimately paid the price for their wastefulness and lack of composure in front of goal as they dropped two points to the relegation threatened students.
"Junior has been outstanding and playing him would've been a huge risk and one I wasn't willing to take and one I thought was a calculated risk," explained the City boss. "If he had of played tonight he could've been out for five or six weeks potentially.
"Who's to say one player would've made the difference. You will play much worse than that tonight and win 1-0 or 2-0 but it was just chance after chance, waves of attack for about 65 minutes. We played on the front foot and were very good with the ball, moved it down the sides and down the middle.
"We were a but naive at times getting caught offside so many times and the frustration grew. But even in the dying minutes we had chances to win the game and we were very wasteful.
"UCD were resolute and rode their luck at times but when we reflect back on it I think it was a game we just didn't get on the end of things and be clinical which is required to put teams like UCD to bed. If you score one there then you go on to win the game comfortably.
"It's a poor night for us," he added. "If you're reflecting on performance, then it's good. Our ability to create chances was good. Decision making in the final third was bang average and I'm disappointed we didn't take at least one of a host of chances we were presented with.
"When we look back at that game it will be very hard to watch back. We've created so many chances and have scored a lot of goals this year but tonight was an opportunity to make a bit of ground up and when we reflect back it will be a very difficult one to take."
Parkhouse clipped the crossbar in the first half and the impressive Jamie McDonagh saw his cross palmed onto the bar by UCD stopper, Conor Kearns in the second half. Derry laid siege to the Dubliners' goal as the pressed for a winner and missed a host of chances late on including gilt edged opportunities which fell to substitute, Adrian Delap and McDonagh in stoppage time.
"It shows you the mentality of the players. They didn't give in. They kept going until the last minute and kept creating chances but we were just crying out for that bit of finesse and composure in the final third. That's not just forwards but midfield players and defenders.
"We had chances from almost every player and we were just wasteful. I can't knock them in any way because they have been fantastic. And even tonight we've played some really good football at times and got in behind them so many times but just lacked that bit of composure and conviction and that's the only thing that was missing.
"We were so comfortable in the game. We were very open in the way we tried to win the game and were positive with our subs. Ultimately it is definitely a couple of points dropped.
"We're all disappointed but we'll dust ourselves down and go again because there's going to be nights like this."