Belfast Telegraph

Hale hit with ban as Candystripes gear up for Lilywhites battle

 

By Eoin Wilson

Derry City have been hit by the news that Rory Hale must sit out tonight's clash with Dundalk at the Brandywell due to suspension.

The midfielder, one of only three City players to have appeared in every game this season, has been a key component of the team's success, with the Candystripes going into tonight's game unbeaten in seven games at home.

The Belfast youngster, who played at Galway United last year, has been a significant addition to the club, alongside brother Ronan, who has scored seven goals his season.

The loss is a boost to the Lilywhites, who are aiming to become the first away side to win at the Brandywell this season, with Waterford, Shamrock Rovers and Cork City among others all trying and failing in 2018.

City and Dundalk played out a 2-2 draw at Oriel Park just a few weeks ago, and boss Kenny Shiels is hoping that his team can go one further and get the three points.

"We want to win any match," he said.

"This is different because of the level of the team we are playing. To play Cork and then Dundalk back to back is a big ask in such close proximity. They are big games at home and we are hoping that we can get something from the game at least."

Before Friday's game, Cork boss John Caulfield expressed his opinion that City had an advantage by playing on an artificial surface, a claim which has been dismissed by Shiels.

"It's a surface that you can play football on so I don't know why people have got this thing about synthetic pitch and how it's a big advantage to Derry. It certainly is not," he said.

"We are getting points because of our supporters. Our players are playing a game that they want to play also; those are the contributing factors, not the surface at all, no chance."

Derry have hit back strongly from their recent defeat to Bray Wanderers, scoring seven against Shelbourne in the League Cup and producing an impressive performance against champions Cork.

"I thought it was a good performance and everybody has been talking about it, but we play like that most of the time anyway and that's what we have to try and do, work out methods and how we play in each game," Shiels continued.

"We overlooked the fact that Cork were very good in terms of shutting our spaces. They dug in and took a point back down the road and they will be pleased with that because it won't be easy coming to the Brandywell."

Derry City vs Dundalk

SSE Airtricity Premier Division

Brandywell Stadium, Tonight, 7.45pm

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