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Derry left frustrated as a golden chance slips away

FK Riteriai 3 Derry City2

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No goal: Derry City’s James Akintunde dejected after a missed chance

No goal: Derry City’s James Akintunde dejected after a missed chance

�INPHO/Saulius Cirba

Good start: Derry’s Joe Thomson celebrates scoring their first goal with Adam Hammill in Vilnius

Good start: Derry’s Joe Thomson celebrates scoring their first goal with Adam Hammill in Vilnius

�INPHO/Saulius Cirba

No goal: Derry City’s James Akintunde dejected after a missed chance

Derry City missed out on a huge opportunity to progress in this season's Europa League as they lost out in extra-time against FK Riteriai in Vilnius.

The Candystripes paid the price for poor defending at the beginning of the second half and start of extra-time, something that has plagued them.

FK Riteriai were far from slick opposition and for long periods of the game Derry were well on top, but they shot themselves in the foot defensively yet again and the Lithuanians were clinical when they needed to be.

On a rollercoaster night, City took a deserved lead within 18 minutes when a ball into the penalty area by Ciaran Coll was brilliantly controlled on the turn by Ibrahim Meite, who directed it into the path of the supporting Joe Thomson.

He took the ball down and placed it into the bottom corner of the net from 15 yards for his first goal for the club.

It was just reward for an encouraging start, but Derry failed to build on that, retreating into themselves and only encouraging their opponents with poor passing and bad decision making on the ball.

The hosts equalised as half- time approached when Donatas Kazlauskas crossed from the right wing towards the near post where Gytis Paulauskas met the ball with a powerful header which flew past Peter Cherrie and into the net.

The second half began disastrously for Derry as they conceded from the most simple of set-plays, an Achilles heel for the Candystripes through the entirety of this season.

Thomson conceded a free-kick, which allowed Riteriai to crowd the penalty area, and when Mindaugus Grigaravicius swept the cross in, Paulauskas was unmarked to head in his second goal of the game.

The rain continued to lash down in Vilnius in what was becoming a real European thriller, with Derry equalising just past the hour mark.

Adam Hammill took a short corner to James Akintunde inside the area and when the winger got the ball back, he shifted it onto his right foot before swinging a cross deep into the area where Eoin Toal rose highest to head the ball into the net to level the game for the visitors.

Derry were dominant in the closing stages and looked to be the only team likely to score.

The goal almost came when another quick corner caught the Riteriai defence sleeping, but Akintunde's shot was deflected over the bar by a last-gasp tackle.

Declan Devine did his best to rally his troops before extra-time started, but his words were not heeded by his players as they conceded less than 30 seconds into the restart.

Kazlauskas raced towards goal and with no challenge incoming from Colm Horgan, he simply curled the ball over Cherrie, who was too far off his line, and Derry found themselves behind once again.

City threw everything at Riteriai in the closing stages but there was no one on hand to put Ciaron Harkin's cross into the net and, with that, the game was gone.

The night ended with concern for substitute Conor Clifford, who left the pitch on a stretcher after an accidental clash with team-mate Horgan.

 

AFTER EXTRA-TIME

FK Riteriai: Simaitis, Kalermo, Sveikauskas, Barauskas, Malzinskas, Dombrauskis (Ramanauskas 88),Traore (Kodz 76), Lezama, Grigalevicius, Paulauskas (Filipavicius 101), Kazlauskas.

Subs not used: Godwin, Jeriomenko, Masenzovas, Paukste.

Derry City: Cherrie, Horgan, Toal, Cole, Coll, Hammill, McCormack, Dunwoody (Mallon 56), Thomson (Clifford 73), Meite (Harkin 85), Akintunde, Clifford (Bruna 110). Subs not used: Boyce, Gartside, McChrystal.

Man of the match: Paulauskas

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Ville Nevalainen (Finland).

 

Belfast Telegraph