Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Rafter double raises roof for slick Derry

Derry City 2 Bray Wanderers 0

Michael Rafter celebrates his goal with Patrick McEleney
Michael Rafter celebrates his goal with Patrick McEleney

Michael Rafter is rapidly making a name for himself at the Brandywell.

His two goals – delivered in contrasting styles – were the foundation of Monday's win over Bray which maintained Derry's great start to the new league season.

"Michael's been a good signing for us," said City boss Declan Devine.

"He's already shown what he is capable of, but I think so far he is only scratching the surface, he still has a long way to go.

"He's a great player and he's at the right club as we have shown that we are a club that can develop players and get the best out of them."

The win was Derry's third in eight days and Devine was delighted with the effort put in by the players.

"To have taken nine points from three games in a week was a brilliant effort by all of them," he said.

"We were missing a couple of bodies, but a couple of the younger lads came in and did a really great job for us.

"I think there are going to be a lot of drawn games in this league and it's all about turning those tight games into wins as we have been doing.

"No-one is getting carried away just six games into the season, but we've made a great start."

Rafter opened the scoring in the 26th minute with no more than a speculative effort from 30 yards out. Keeper Sean Holmes looked to have the looping shot covered, but he failed to hang onto it and he could only watch on as it dribbled over his line.

The second came in the 55th minute and it was no more than Derry deserved for a commanding all-round performance.

Patrick McEleney delivered a great cross from the left wing where Rafter was lurking at the back post to head home his and City's second.

In the absence of Rory Patterson, who limped off during Friday night's 4-0 win over Shelbourne, Rafter will be an important figure for Declan Devine this season and has already netted four this season.

Derry began brightly and Patrick McEleney opted to test Holmes early on with a long-range shot which sailed just over the crossbar in the ninth minute.

And then a minute later Mark Griffin almost got on the end of a promising long ball into the area by Barry Molloy, but the final touch just eluded him.

Bray might have taken the lead themselves when Jason Byrne fired in an effort in the 20th minute which clipped the top of Gerard Doherty's crossbar.

But thereafter it was pretty much all Derry, especially after Rafter's slightly fortuitous 26th minute opener.

McEleney saw a good effort fly just over in the 32nd minute and two minute later Rafter had a solid header saved by Holmes.

Rafter might have scored on 52 minutes when he fired his shot into the side netting, but his second goal three minutes later knocked all the fight out of Bray who struggled to make an impression.

Derry City: Doherty, McBride, Madden, S McEleney, Molloy, Higgins, Griffin, Crawley, B McNamee, P McEleney, Rafter. Subs: Kelly, Kavanagh, Gallagher, Duffy, Curran, McCaffrey, T McNamee.

Bray Wanderers: Holmes, Thomas, O'Connor, Knight, Hyland, Waters, Doyle, Dempsey, Zambra, Mulroy, Byrne. Subs: Webster, O'Neill, McGuinness, Malone, Joyce, Earley, Akinade.

Referee: Rob Rodgers (Dublin).

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