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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Lorcan Doherty Salihorsk's Siarhei Balanovich is tackled by Derry defender Shane McEleney.
# Qualifier
Defensive error proves costly as Derry beaten in Europe
The Candystripes lost 1-0 to Belarusian club Shakhytor Soligorsk at the Brandywell tonight.

Derry City 0-1 Shakhytor Soligorsk

SHANE  MCELENEY’S SLOPPY defensive error handed slick Belarusian outfit Shakhytor Soligorsk a narrow victory and a crucial away goal to put them firmly in the driving seat in tonight’s UEFA Europa League second round qualifier at Brandywell Stadium.

The Derry centre half hesitated on the ball before under-hitting his back pass to Gerard Doherty and Shakhytor’s top goalscorer Nikolai Yanush pounced to give the visitors the lead.

Peter Hutton’s troops now must score in next Thursday’s return leg in Salihorsk to keep alive their hopes of joining some of the European heavyweights in the next round and they can watch tomorrow’s third round draw in Nyon with interest thanks to a spirited second half performance and the heroics of goalkeeper Ger Doherty.

When Yanush’s goal hit the Derry net one would be forgiven for fearing the worst for the Candystripes as the visitors went on to twice rattle the woodwork. However, thanks to a encouraging second half display this tie remains in the balance.

Hutton had made two changes from the team which defeated Bray 5-0 on Sunday as Ryan McBride and skipper, Cliff Byrne returned to the starting line-up , replacing Danny Ventre who dropped to the bench and the injured Dean Jarvis.

McBride was surprisingly deployed in the troublesome right back position with McEleney partnering Byrne in central defence. The visitors went with an attacking 3-4-3 formation, clearly intent on netting that crucial away goal and it didn’t take long to see why they were installed as firm favourites by the bookies.

Shakhytor dominated the scoring chances in the opening 45 minutes and Derry, who struggled to contain a well-oiled offensive system, saw the warning signs as early as the ninth minute.

Aliaksandr Yurevich got the better of McBride on the right flank, came inside onto his left foot and drove low towards goal but Gerard Doherty saved. Ihar Kuzmianok then rattled the edge of the Derry upright with a ambitious, powerful drive from 35 yards.

Rory Patterson did have the ball in the back of the visitors’ net on 20 minute when he slotted Patrick McEleney’s pass home but the assistant raised his flag for offside.

There were encouraging signs for the Candy Stripes and when McNamee played a nice reverse pass into the feet of McEleney, the in-form striker shot wide of goal.

Then came that crucial away goal for the Belarusians on 27 minutes following a howler of a backpass from Shane McEleney.

Mikalai Kasheuski and Cliff Byrne 17/7/2014 Lorcan Doherty Mikalai Kasheuski and Cliff Byrne contest a header. Lorcan Doherty

The centre half hesitated before under-hitting his pass towards Doherty and Yanush nipped in to intercept before taking the ball past the retreating Derry keeper and slotting into the empty net.

The visitors were growing in confidence threatened to add to their tally when Alekei Rio flicked the ball into the path of Siarhei Balanovich and his shot was palmed away by Doherty.

The home lot will have been happy to go in at the break just the single goal behind and while Hutton refused to make any changes to formation or personnel City enjoyed a promising start to the second period.

McNamee and Patrick McEleney linked up superbly 30 yards from the Shakhytor penalty area with a neat one-two before finding Patterson who scuffed his shot tamely into the hands of the keeper on the hour mark.

The dangerous Yanush was again causing problems for the City defence and his low shot towards the near post was saved bravely by the feet of Doherty. And two minutes later Rios’ shot from inside the City area was turned on to the post by Doherty.

Doherty then denied Shakhytor a second away goal with a point blank save from substitute, Dmitri Asipenka’s close range header on 69 minutes.

But Derry went straight up the other end and Patterson had his hurried shot on the turn from eight yards blocked on the line by Ihar Kuzmianok while McBride headed a Mark Timlin corner wide of the target. But that equalising goal failed to materialise for Hutton’s brave troops.

Derry City: G. Doherty 8; S. McEleney 6, R. McBride 6, C. Byrne 8, A. Barry 6; M. Timlin 6, B. Molloy 6, B. McNamee 7, P. McEleney 8 (N. Boyle 6, 86), M. Duffy 6 (S. Dooley 7 63), R. Patterson 6; Subs Not Used – C. Gallagher, N. Boyle, R. Curran, P. Lowry, J. Tracey, D. Ventre.

Shakhtytor Soligorsk: A. Kotenko 7; I. Kuzmianok 7, A. Yanushkevich 7, M. Kasheuski 6; S. Matveychik 7, I. Galiuza 7, A. Stargorodskyy 6, A. Yurevich 6; S. Balanovich 6 (A. Guruli 6, 77), N. Yanush 8 (D. Asipenka 7, 67), A. Rios 7 (A. Tsevan 6, 88),; Subs Not Used – I. Gavrilov, A. Liavonchyk, F. Ivanov, A. Vasilevski.
Referee – Danilo Grujic (Serbia).

Star Man – Gerard Doherty (Derry City)
Attendance – 2,400

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