Derry’s Will Patching reacts to a missed chance. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
All to do

Derry City fall to disappointing home defeat against Riga

The Latvian side took full advantage of poor discipline and slack defending to put one foot into the second round.

Derry City 0

Riga FC 2

Simon Collins reports from The Brandywell

DERRY CITY’S HOPES of progressing in the Uefa Conference League were left hanging by a thread as Riga took full advantage of poor discipline and slack defending to put one foot into the second round.

City striker Matty Smith was handed his marching orders on 67 minutes following a bust-up with Glody Ngonda when the ball went out of play. It looked a harsh decision but Derry ultimately paid a high price for a needless altercation.

Within 60 seconds of that incident Riga doubled their lead as Douglas Aurelio skipped past Shane McEleney before cutting it back to Oleksandr Filippov who was left with a simple tap-in from five yards.

Derry did have chances from set-pieces and had a big claim for a penalty when the ball hit the outstretched hand of substitute Ilja Korotkovs but couldn’t find a way past the Riga defence who will have one eye on a second round tie against the winner of MFK Ruzomberok (Slovakia) and FK Kauno Zalagiris (Lithuania).

The Foylesiders were handed a major boost before kick-off with both Ronan Boyce and Cameron Dummigan declared fit following recent injury layoffs but the game probably came too soon for both.

Both teams were sizing each other out during a cagey opening and seven minutes elapsed before the visitors registered the first shot at goal when Aurelio Douglas fired harmlessly over the bar from 25 yards.

ryan-graydon-shoots-on-goal Derry’s Ryan Graydon shoots on goal. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Derry carved out their first opening of the match on 14 minutes when McEleney won the ball from Yurii Vakulki in midfield and when McGonigle picked up the loose ball, he found Thomson with a square pass but the Scot dragged his shot wide.

Toal headed into the hands of Davis Oss from Patching’s floated cross towards the back post moments later.

The Riga keeper was called into action once again on 18 minutes when he held onto Will Patching’s curling free-kick from a promising position on the right of the penalty area on 18 minutes.

Finnish winger Mikael Soisalo did well to race past Patrick McEleney inside the Derry penalty area but his low cross into the six yard box was cut out by the outstretched leg of Maher before Patching cleared the danger.

The Latvians were utilising their pace on the wings to great effect with ex-Dundalk full-back Jurkovskis and Soisalo causing problems on the right.

It was the latter who cut open the Derry defence with a clever cut back towards the penalty spot but striker Oleksandr Fillippov scuffed his shot and Maher saved.

McGonigle cut inside onto his right foot as Derry broke at pace but the City strike’s low strike towards the far post was gathered cleanly by Oss on the half hour mark.

Patching was handed another opportunity from a free-kick, this time a little closer towards the Riga goal. It was a better effort from the Englishman who bent his effort over the wall but it failed to trouble the keeper.

Derry found themselves behind four minutes before the break when Fillippov chased a long ball in behind Shane McEleney before hooking his cross into the penalty area where Ramos’ effort on the half volley bounced into the corner of the net.

It was a poor goal to concede and it almost got worse for the home side moments later when Filippov tried to find the far corner of the net with a decent strike from 20 yards but it sailed wide.

The Latvians took their narrow lead into the interval and they were marginally better of the two teams with Derry threatening fleetingly from setplays.

Boyce, who had passed a late fitness test, went down injured on 52 minutes and was replaced by debutante Ryan Graydon who joined from Longford Town last weekend.

Patching came close to finding the target with another free-kick from the corner of the box but it was another opportunity lost for the home lot.

Derry were beginning to churn through the gears and Riga were prepared to sit back and soak up the pressure.

There was a big claim for handball when McGonigle’s strike hit the outstretched hand of substitute Ilja Korotkovs but there was little the Latvian could do to get out of the way and the referee waved play on.

Within the space of two minutes Derry found themselves in real trouble and in danger of bowing out of the competition.

On 67 minutes match referee Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson harshly gave City striker Smith his marching orders after the Scotsman got into a needless confrontation with Glody Ngonda who received a yellow card for his troubles.

matty-smith-protests-after-being-sent-off-by-jan-machalek Derry’s Matty Smith protests after being sent off by referee Jan Machálek. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

It didn’t take Riga long to take advantage but it was poor defending once more as Aurelio skipped past Shane McEleney before cutting it back to Filippov who was left with a simple tap-in from five yards.

Patching did have another chance from a well placed free-kick but curled his effort straight into the hands of the Riga keeper once again.

With the extra man Riga were controlling the ball for the final 10 minutes but a misplaced pass from Korotkovs fell straight to the feet of Graydon who raced towards goal before firing wide of the net on 88 minutes.

There was five minutes of added time signalled but both sides would’ve been content to blow it up.

It could’ve been worse for City with the last action of the first leg as Ukrainian substitute Vladlen Yurchenko clipped the crossbar with a well executed strike from just inside the box. Jurkovskis fired the rebound over the crossbar but it mattered little as Riga took a giant step towards the second round.

Derry have it all to do in the second leg in Riga next week and will be kicking themselves for two avoidable goals.

Derry City: Maher: Boyce (Graydon 52), Toal, McEleney; Smith, Dummigan, McEleney, Patching, McJannet; Thomson; McGonigle (Akintunde 74); Subs Not Used – Gartside, Coll, Kavanagh, Lafferty, McLaughlin, Malone, Porter.

Riga: Purins; Jurkovskis, Berqkvist, Cernomordijs (Korotkovs 57), Ngonda; Solsalo (Yurchenko 76), Vakulko, Petsos, Ramos; Aurelio (Petersons 80), Filippov; Subs Not Used – Oss, Ozols, Kurakins, Rugins, Musah, Tutu.

Referee: Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson (Iceland)

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