Competition: Europa Conference League Third Qualifying Round, Second Leg
Date: 17 August 2023
Result: Derry City 1 – 0 Tobol Kostanay (1-1 on aggregate, Tobol win 6-5 on penalties)
Tickets: £25 for adults, £9 for kids.
Game/ Experience Rating: ☆☆☆☆
The Game: Derry came into this game 1-0 down from a trip to Kazakhstan, and based on the highlights I’d seen, a little unfortunate with that. Forced to play in Tallaght instead of Bandywell or Windsor Park (which works for me, though I’d imagine was a serious frustration for their fans), they created an almost manic atmosphere which I really quite enjoyed, although almost entirely in the Tallaght Stadium’s West Stand.
I thought Derry dominated most of the game, creating a host of chances, though their actual goal came from a penalty. There wasn’t a lot of cutting edge, as demonstrated by the final kick of normal time, a one-on-one with the Tobol goalkeeper that was frustratingly scuffed. There was nothing in the tie, though, which is always a bonus, and ultimately it went to penalties, with Tobol’s goalkeeper, something of a game player, delaying loads of kicks and causing a few issues.
It was Derry goalkepper Brian Maher who was eventually key after Tobol had hit the crossbar with their first chance to win the game. He hit the seventh Derry penalty quite tamely at Tobol’s keeper, and then got nowhere near the reply, with Tobol coming out 6-5 winners after seven penalties each. A good contest that Derry were unlucky not to win, but neither side felt riddled with quality.
The ground: I’ve been to Tallaght countless times but it felt different occupied by lively Derry fans, who lit up the normally quiet-ish West Stand. I particualrly enjoyed their renditions of ‘Teenage Kicks’. The North Stand looks close to completion, maybe another month’s work.
Extras: There was a programme and the usual stadium snacks, but that was about it.
Assorted asides: Extremely odd (though I understand the logic) paying for a game in Tallaght in sterling (online, naturally). I felt it was a bit overpriced for what it was, too, especially for traveling fans. Derry were the last Irish club standing in Europe – a disappointing season internationally for the League of Ireland all in.
My totals for the year so far:
Games: 18. Home wins: 11 Draws: 4 Away wins: 3
Goals: 51. Home goals: 34. Away goals: 17. Goals per game: 2.83