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Derry City fall agonisingly short of famous turnaround in Belarus

The Candystripes were just a goal away from dumping Dinamo Minsk out on their own patch.

Artem Bykov walks by a dejected Jamie McDonagh
Artem Bykov walks by a dejected Jamie McDonagh
Image: Krill/INPHO

DINAMO MINSK 1 (3)

DERRY CITY 2 (2)

Simon Collins reports from Dinamo Stadium

DERRY CITY CAME agonisingly close to a historic turnaround in their Europa League first-round qualifier as they exited the competition on aggregate despite a heroic second-leg victory over Dinamo Minsk in Belarus.

Second-half substitute Ronan Hale netted a deserved winning goal on 74 minutes after Ally Roy had stunned the hosts with a seventh-minute strike, but it was Aleksandr Sachivko’s equaliser on 28 minutes which proved decisive as the Belarusians scraped through the tie on a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.

So, the Candystripes bow out of Europe but do so with their heads held high, and Shiels will be hoping the performance can bring a new-found belief to their stuttering league campaign as they look towards a trip to Cork City on Monday night.

Alyaksandr Sachywka celebrates his goal with teammates Alyaksandr Sachywka celebrates his goal Source: Krill/INPHO

There was an estimated 10,000 attendance – including Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko – as the Dinamo fans witnessed the club’s long-awaited homecoming to their redeveloped stadium following a six-year absence.

However, the home support were left stunned on seven minutes as Roy breathed life into Derry City’s European campaign with a composed strike into the corner of the net.

The Scotsman played a clever one-two with Aaron McEneff on the edge of the penalty area as he got in behind the Dinamo defence before sending the keeper the wrong way with a well-placed, right-footed effort.

It was a dream start from the Brandywell outfit and the former Hearts and Sligo Rovers man came close to adding a second on 15 minutes when he took advantage of a hesitant Dinamo defence. This time, however, his shot from a tight angle was turned behind at the near post by Syarhey Ignatovich.

Rory Hale celebrates Ally Roy's goal Rory Hale celebrates Ally Roy's goal Source: Krill/INPHO

From the resultant corner McEneff delivered dangerously towards the back post where the unmarked Peers headed back towards goal and Cole’s headed effort from eight yards was saved comfortably by the keeper.

Dinamo were on the back foot and the home side were fortunate when Rory Hale released Roy with a searching ball over the top on 26 minutes but the Dinamo keeper came quickly out of his box and breathed a sigh of relief when his clearance deflected off the City striker and went behind.

Two minutes later, however, the home side found the back of the net following a free-kick whipped in from the left side. The Derry defence failed to clear their lines after several attempts before it fell to Sachivko who fired his first-time effort into the corner of the net from six yards.

Needing to score two goals in the second half it was a big ask for Shiels’ troops. Two minutes after the restart, Cole lost possession deep inside the Derry half and just as Artem Solovei looked to be clean through on goal, the impressive Peers managed to get a last-ditch tackle in and received a booking for his troubles.

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Uros Nikolic then tried his luck with a powerful strike from 25 yards on 51 minutes but Doherty did superbly to parry it away, with Seaborne seeing it out of play as City absorbed some sustained Dinamo pressure.

Peers was gifted a glorious chance on 59 minutes when a Derry corner was played short to McEneff. His driving shot was going wide of the target but Peers rose unchallenged and somehow directed his effort away from goal at the far post.

Substitute Ronan Hale picked up a loose ball in the Dinamo final third and fired it first time on the half volley but it went narrowly over the bar on 73 minutes.

And Hale found the net 60 second later to set up a grandstand finish. A ball over the top was brought down superbly by Roy, who sidestepped the defender before laying it off to Hale who did the rest.

Derry City fans Derry City fans Source: Krill/INPHO

Straight up the other end, Dinamo were in behind the City defence but Rory Hale did enough to put Seidu Yahaya off: he shot into the side-netting before skipper Bykov’s header from a free kick forced an outstanding save from the outstretched hand of Doherty.

Cole produced a goalline clearance in the 91st minute while Doherty made another tremendous save following a goalmouth scramble at the death to ensure the second-leg win for the visitors, but it wasn’t enough to keep them in the competition.

Uros Nikolic Source: Krill/INPHO

Dinamo Minsk: S. Ignatovich; M. Shvetsov, S. Yahaya, A. Bykov, U. Nikolic, A. Saroka ( P. Ivanov 62), A. Solovei (U. Khvaschinski 67) M. Zhavnerchik, A. Sachivko, R. Begunov, A. Gurenko (Ostroukh 84); Subs Not Used – Gorbunov, Galovic, Ksenofontov.

Derry City: G. Doherty; D. Seaborne, G. Peers, D. Cole; J. McDonagh, R. Hale, A. Splaine, B. Fisk (B. Doherty 89); A. McEneff, D. Shiels (Ronan Hale 70); A. Roy; Subs Not Used – E. Grimes, E. Toal, A. Delap, N. Logue, R. Patterson.

Referee: Jens Maae (Denmark)

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Simon Collins

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