Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Robertson has Derry on tip top form

Four wins on the trot have transformed Derry City into a side which no-one in the eircom League is looking forward to facing.

Certainly not Sligo Rovers, against whom Derry have acquired the happy knack of scoring goals by the bucketful over the past couple of seasons.

They return to the Sligo Showgrounds in the league this evening on the back of their superb 3-0 midweek demolition of UCD to reach the League Cup final for the third year in a row.

That was a game which will live long in the memory, thanks in large part, to Patrick McCourt's stunning effort in the closing stages. It was one of the all-time great Derry City goals.

John Robertson's first game in charge was against the same opponents, a game Derry won 4-1 without playing with anything like the panache they have shown deeper into the Scotsman's tenure.

Sligo sit three places above Derry in the premier division table in fourth and although they are a better side under Paul Cook than the one which Derry thumped 5-0 in the FAI Cup semi-final replay last year, that says more about Derry's dreadful run under Pat Fenlon than radical improvement of standards at the Showgrounds.

Derry are a side now brimming with confidence and are favourites to hold onto both Cups they won in such thrilling fashion last year.

They have home advantage for the League Cup decider against Bohemians on October 9 and are at home to face UCD - again - in the FAI Cup quarter-final.

The one real worry facing Robertson is the potential for an injury crisis in his defence.

Mark McChrystal, who only signed again for the club last month, will be out for at least two months after breaking a bone in his foot just before half-time in Tuesday's semi-final.

Regular left back Sean Hargan is not fully fit after missing the bulk of the past month's action.

And the transfer of Darren Kelly to York City has left them with precious little cover in the centre of defence. Pat Fenlon rather unwisely allowed lanky Clive Delaney to leave and he was never adequately replaced.

It's in attack where City are really enjoying themselves with McCourt ruling the roost.

Sammy Morrow has given City a more purposeful look going forward and already has forged a great understanding with fellow striker Kevin McHugh who despite everything, is probably enjoying his best season for City since joining from Finn Harps.

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