Mark Timlin has challenged his Derry City team mates to rediscover their recent free scoring form when they travel to Salihorsk in Belarus this Thursday knowing they need to find the back of the net to reignite their bid to reach the third round of the Europa League qualifiers.

A trip to SV Zulte Waregem of Belgium or Poland’s Zawisza Bydgoszcz awaits the victors of the crunch tie and, although City failed to score for the first time in 10 games in Thursday’s narrow 1-0 first leg at the Brandywell, the Buncrana man took plenty of positives from their performance.

“I thought it was a game of two different halves,” he told Donegalnow. “In the first half we sat off them a bit and gave them too much respect and they got the goal, but in the second we pressed them high up the pitch and looked the better side. We had them penned in for the whole half but we just couldn’t create the clear cut chance to get the equaliser.

“The players are obviously disappointed to lose the game but we believe we can still go through. Going out there we have to take confidence from our second half performance because they are a beatable team and we have the ability to get a result there.

“We’ve been scoring a lot of goals recently so we have to go into the game with no fear and believe in ourselves that we can score two goals and get the tie wrapped up.”

Although clear cut chances were at a premium in Thursday night’s game, City were clearly able to penetrate Shakhtyor when they pushed forward and ran at the Belarusians. Patrick McEleney was particularly to the fore after the break as he continued his recent resurgence in form and Timlin admitted he is relishing playing alongside the Shantallow man.  

“Fats is on fire and when you’re making runs at the moment you know that the chances are Patrick will find you with his passes, him and Rory are both likely to pop up with a goal in every game we play so we know going out there that there are goals in this team.”

With league games every weekend and European ties every Thursday, it has been a busy period for City since they returned from the midseason break and Timlin welcomed the postponement of this weekend’s arduous trip to Limerick FC.

“There may have been a bit of fatigue there at the end when we couldn’t get that final push to make our possession count. The game at the weekend was called off so we have a full week off now to prepare for Thursday’s return leg and hopefully everyone will be fresh and we can give it a right good go and get a result over there,” he concluded.

By Johnny Craig


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