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Shiels' reign is off to poor start as Derry fall flat


Fierce battle: Derry City’s Jordan Allan (right) takes on Packie Mailey of Finn Harps last night in Ballybofey

Fierce battle: Derry City’s Jordan Allan (right) takes on Packie Mailey of Finn Harps last night in Ballybofey

Lorcan Doherty

Fierce battle: Derry City’s Jordan Allan (right) takes on Packie Mailey of Finn Harps last night in Ballybofey

Kenny Shiels' Derry City tenure began in disappointment last night as the Candystripes fell to their first league defeat against Finn Harps in 18 years in Ballybofey.

Goals from David Scully and former Brandywell ace Ryan Curran ensured Rory Patterson's late goal was a mere consolation and sealed the 2-1 victory for an overjoyed Harps team, who deserved the win on their return to the Airtricity Premier League.

It leaves more questions than answers for Shiels, who watched his team start well but fade badly in the second-half.

Derry could have hit the ground running with a goal in the first minute but it proved to be a nightmare moment for Scottish striker Jordan Allan, who somehow headed wide unmarked from just six yards out after Gareth McGlynn's cross.

The Candystripes were the better team in the opening stages and good work from Niclaus Vemmelund set up a crossing opportunity for Conor McCormack. His delivery arrived at the feet of McGlynn at the back post, but his goal-bound shot was bravely blocked by Ciaran Coll.

Derry captain Ryan McBride needed to be equally as efficient at the other end as Harps created an opportunity moments later, Curran racing through only to be denied.

Both teams were struggling to pass the ball on a truly awful Finn Park surface but when they did get the ball moving, Derry looked dangerous and Patterson played a superb through ball for the run of Barry McNamee, but the midfielder got the ball stuck under his feet before he was crowded out by Harps defenders and the chance was gone.

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The half ended as it started for Derry with Allan missing a close-range header, this time from a McGlynn corner, and moments later Harps made the visitors pay with the opening goal.

It was a relatively simple goal for the hosts as Tony McNamee's free-kick found Scully unmarked and he headed past Gerard Doherty from close range.

The hosts knew it was going to be their night with just 15 minutes remaining when Curran latched onto a loose ball behind the City defence and confidently swept past Doherty to make it 2-0.

It was a sweet moment for Curran, who struggled to break into the Derry first team for years.

Rather than force Derry into action, the goal only deflated them further and Curran almost had a second five minutes later when he brought a save from Doherty.

The Candystripes were given a sliver of hope in added time when Patterson flicked the ball over Ciaran Gallagher.

However, it proved to be too little, too late for Derry who fell to defeat against their old rivals and kicked off their season in the worst possible manner.

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