KENNY SHIELS blasted his players for their failure to defend set-pieces as history repeated itself at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night.
A one-time Derry City target, Tim Clancy netted a late winner for Bray Wanderers from an Aaron Greene corner kick as the Seagulls snatched a victory which saw them overtake Shiels’ men into third spot.
Twice City had come from behind in a game they controlled for its entirety. But they were the victims of their own downfall in the end as lapses in concentration at set-pieces resulted in the concession of three avoidable goals.
It’s been the Candy Stripes’ Achilles’ heel this season and Shiels didn’t hold back in his post-match press conference when he threatened to drop players who were responsible for ‘disgraceful’ defending and an inability to follow instructions.
“I’m really disappointed with our inability to defend set-pieces,” said a deeply frustrated Shiels. “You can’t defend set-pieces like that.
“Everything we do is about preparation and we prepared set-pieces only yesterday. The players were given potential players to pick up. You just can’t do that!
We do everything we can to prepare and it’s a disgrace. It’s letting the club down and letting their fellow teammates down. I’m sorry, it’s time we’re just going to have to drop players if they can’t take on information.Kenny Shiels
“Players are given specific jobs to do and if they don’t do them then we have to ask questions. It’s really, really disappointing.
“We do everything we can to prepare and it’s a disgrace. It’s letting the club down and letting their fellow teammates down. I’m sorry, it’s time we’re just going to have to drop players if they can’t take on information.”
Bizarrely the game mirrored the previous encounter between the teams on March 31st last in that the teams shared five goals with Bray taking a 3-2 win from Maginn Park on that occasion.
Clancy also got the winner late on from a Greene corner kick despite Bray’s clear intent on holding on for share of the spoils.
On Friday night Bray were using every trick in the book to run down the clock to ensure they held on for a point with players feigning injuries and cynically fouling to prevent Derry getting into any sort of rhythm.
Derry were a joy to watch at times with Nicky Low and Aaron McEneff in particular dictating the play from midfield. It was Low who played a magnificent defence splitting pass in behind Hugh Douglas for Ronan Curtis, who delivered a composed finish on 22 minutes to cancel out Darragh Noone’s opener.
McEneff added an assist for Nathan Boyle during a blistering start to the second half as the striker swivelled on the edge of the box before clinically finding the bottom corner. McEneff himself was denied late on by a magnificent save from Peter Cherrie who, for the second time this season, produced the goods against City.
And yet it was Bray who scrambled in the winner with nine minutes on the clock to put them in the driving seat for the third European spot while City dropped two places into fifth, albeit with a game in hand.
“You can be the better team on the evening and not get the win,” lamented Shiels. “Bray fought like demons. They needed to get a result after being on a bad run and we were the victims of our own downfall.
“It was just one of those games where it just wasn’t going to happen. It was like deja vu at Maginn Park when Tim Clancy scored a winner from a corner kick and there it goes again.
“Those little trends reoccur in football and that’s happened again tonight. I don’t think Bray can complain if I said we should have won the game. But we didn’t and the team which scores the most goals wins the game and it doesn’t matter about the quality of play at the end of the day.
“There was lots of things which contributed to them winning but the thing which contributed the most was our inability to defend set-pieces having gone through them in fine detail this week in preparation for the game.
So if people can’t take on information then they’re out of the team!,” warned the City boss.
Defensively we have the second best defence in the league or somewhere in around there statistically. But nearly all the goals we concede are from set-pieces.
“Our organisation in the other part of the team is very good and the technical ability of the team is very good. But they can’t defend set-pieces and players have to understand it’s a big part of the game.
“Okay, we haven’t got a big team in terms of stature but surely you can get close to people. I’m really disappointed we lost the game because we simply couldn’t defend set-pieces.”