Saturday 24 March 2018

Doherty plays down Drogs' pre-season performances

Marcus Cavaroli

Assistant manager Kevin Doherty has sought to play down Drogheda United's impressive results in pre-season in the aftermath of their 4-1 rout of Derry City last Friday.

In a game switched from The Brandywell to United Park at 48 hours' notice, the Boynesiders scored three times in the first half before sealing victory with a strike from recent signing Lee Duffy.

With Bohemians also tasting defeat in a previous friendly, Drogheda would complete a hat-trick of Premier Division scalps if they manage to beat Bray Wanderers at United Park this Friday (7.45pm), while even against Dundalk in the recent Jim Malone Cup clash the Boynesiders were well in the game until a late double secured a 3-1 win for the Lilywhites.

However, Doherty, speaking on Monday afternoon, insisted that the results at this stage of the year weren't of any significance.

'It was a good performance against Derry and we took most of our chances which is good. We've scored a couple of really good goals from long-range efforts as well, which is encouraging to see,' he began.

'The games are good to have to have a look at players, we didn't pick up any knocks and a good few of the lads got 60 or 90 minutes. We got to have a look at a couple of things and pre-season has been going well. 'But that bite is not there in pre-season, we've not kicked a ball yet and the results do not really matter. It's really about fitness at this stage and getting lads ready for the Finn Harps [league] game. 

'Derry were not at their best and they were probably trying a few things, and if we were playing them in the first league game of the season it would be a completely different game.'

Duffy signed up for his second spell with the Drogs just after we went to press last week and Doherty was delighted to have a striker of his quality at United Park.

'I worked with Lee before and he's a good lad who worked very hard in pre-season before we signed him. He's a hard-working lad and has pace about him, and in the First Division particularly if you are fit and quick you have half a chance of doing alright.

'He's contributed very well in games as well, and he deserves this chance.'

Attention now turns to some of the other players who have featured in pre-season but haven't yet earned a contract. Lloyd Buckley, Victor Ekanem, Kealan Dillon - who scored a spectacular goal against Derry - and goalkeeper Luca Gratzer are all in contention, but it's unlikely the budget will allow all four to be offered a deal.

Reflecting on the situation, Doherty said: 'We're close to it and I'm hopeful we will have two or three more in the next week, but we're looking at using a few of the Under-19s as well. There's no point having a squad of 25 and they take the young lads' chances. Last year was a poor year and it's all about getting as many young lads through as possible.'

The current size of the squad means Drogheda will probably be operating with the same squad for Friday's game with Bray Wanderers, and attention will then turn to the Leinster Senior Cup fourth-round tie with Bangor Celtic on Thursday week - also at United Park.

The Leinster Senior League side defeated Mullingar Athletic 1-0 in the third round at the Iveagh Grounds the week before last in a game watched by the Drogheda management team.

Meanwhile, the Boynesiders are still without a goalkeeping coach two weeks before the start of the season as they have failed to find a suitable replacement for Chris Bennion who has moved to Bohemians for 2018.

Drogheda Independent