Derry City come from a goal down to take first-leg lead over KuPS

Derry City celebrate their equaliser, scored by Will Patching (centre) Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Derry City celebrate their equaliser, scored by Will Patching (centre) Picture by Margaret McLaughlin Derry City celebrate their equaliser, scored by Will Patching (centre) Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Uefa Europa Conference League second qualifying round, first leg

Derry City 2 KuPS 1

DERRY City produced a tremendous second-half performance to see off Finnish side KuPS Kuopio at a packed Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium last night writes Seamus Crudden.

Trailing to Axei Vidjeskog’s penalty right on the stroke of half-time, goals from Will Patching and substitute Cian Kavanagh sealed the all-important first-leg victory.

On this showing boss Ruaidhri Higgins will fancy his chances of his side progressing further in this competition.

The Candystripes would have felt disappointed to go in 1-0 down at the break with the woodwork denying Ronan Boyce twice.

Higgins started with an attacking line-up as skipper Patrick McEleney made just his ninth start of the season, while Brandon Kavanagh came in for Paul O’Neill.

The Finnish side went close to getting an early goal as Axei Vidjeskog ghosted in at the back post, but his header was cleared off the line by City defender Mark Connolly.

Derry went close themselves as Ben Doherty’s long-range strike, which seemed to take a slight deflection on the way through, was gathered at the second attempt by KuPS goalkeeper Johannes Kreidl.

Minutes later a sublime pass by Patrick McEleney found Ronan Boyce inside the box, but the right-back’s attempted lob, which was goal-bound, was tipped onto the bar by Kreidl.

The woodwork denied Boyce for a second time on 21 minutes, this time the defender’s looping header at the back post, which had Kreidl beaten, clipped the crossbar.

KuPS broke the deadlock on 44 minutes from the penalty spot after referee Robertas Valikonis rightfully pointed to the spot after Mark Connolly had blocked Urho Nissilä’s goalbound shot inside the box with his hand. Midfielder Vidjeskog calmly sent Brian Maher the wrong way.

Derry started on the front foot after the break and Brandon Kavanagh went close on 52 minutes but his angled drive was saved by a diving Kreidl.

Just on the hour mark, a cleverly weighted pass by Michael Duffy released Jamie McGonigle down the left but his strike from inside the box was easily gathered by Kreidl.

Maher had to make a top-drawer save to deny Tete Tebgi moments later as the big Australian striker’s left-footed shot from the edge of the box was destined for the top corner.

The home side deservedly equalised on 69 minutes as Paul McMullan’s right-wing centre found Will Patching and the midfielder’s powerful header was too much for Kreidl to handle.

Derry went close to taking the lead soon after as substitute Cian Kavanagh saw his shot well kept out by a diving Kreidl, before Duffy’s close-range follow-up effort was blocked by Seth Saarinen.

City took the lead on 79 minutes as Duffy’s left wing cross picked out an unmarked Cian Kavanagh, who gleefully fired home from close range.

Kavanagh should have done better on 90 minutes, but he headed over from close range, after McMullan’s cross had picked him out.

In stoppage time Kreidl had to make a big save to keep the scoreline down as he denied substitute Adam O’Reilly, after the midfielder had burst into the KuPS penalty box.

From Ben Doherty’s resulting corner Kreidl somehow kept out Kavanagh’s close-range header.

Derry City Maher, Boyce, Connolly, McJannet, Doherty, Dummigan, P McEleney (Diallo 83), Patching (O'Reilly 83); Duffy, McGonigle, B Kavanagh (McMullan 62).

KuPS Kreidl, Miettinen, Hämäläinen, Toivomäki, Saarinen, Nissilä (Heinonen 87), Oksanen, Vidjeskog (Bispo 73), Tuominen, Yengi, Savolainen. Subs: Dahlstorm, Gabriel, Heinonen, Jervis, Lampinen, Miettinen, Pitkanen, Riihimaki.

Referee Mr Robertas Valikonis (Lithuania)