DESPITE slumping to a highly-controversial Boxing Day derby defeat to North West neighbours Institute, Dergview boss Richard Clarke was greatly encouraged by his side’s performance at Wilton Park.
Less than a week after a 7-0 trouncing at Portadown, the Castlederg outfit matched the Championship One challengers stride for stride and can count themselves unlucky not have secured at least a share of the spoils.
A hotly-disputed penalty by Aaron Harkin had Stute ahead on 25 minutes but it wasn’t until deep in stoppage-time that the homesters made sure of the points when Aaron Jarvis netted a second on the counter attack.
In between Stute keeper Marty Gallagher denied striker Ryan Campbell on no fewer than three occasions and the visitors, too, had to play the final 25 minutes with 10 men following the sending off of Aaron Arkinson.
Clarke had no issue with Arkinson’s sending off for lashing out but he certainly felt aggrieved at the penalty award against defender Mattie Buchanan.
“Mattie did everything you want off a defender,” raged Clarke.
“Jamie Dunne showed him a bit of the ball and he cleared it out for what we thought was a throw-in.
“To the disbelief of both sides the match official pointed to the spot. It was a ridiculous refereeing decision and it came completely out of the blue.”
Moments before that Campbell sliced wide after turning a defender inside out and following Harkin’s successful penalty and a period of the sustained Dergview pressure the striker watched on in disbelief as Gallagher tipped over his stinging volley from the edge of the area.
In the second period the Stute stopper denied Campbell a third time after he had cut in from the left and he was again was at his acrobatic best in thwarting Arkinson, who had waltzed in from the opposite flank.
Arkinson then received his marching orders for his part in a brief dust-up but despite going down to 10 men Clarke went for broke.
The Derg supremo introduced Stephen Browne, Simon McGlynn and Conal Arnold in an all-out attacking assault which almost yielded an equaliser when Mattie Callaghan was a whisker away from turning in a Tommy Wray knock-down.
Having committed to attack left the Derg defence susceptible to the counter attack and right at the death Jarvis broke forward to chip the ball expertly over visiting keeper Stefan McCusker.
The Derg men will have little time to dwell on the derby defeat as they host Loughgall United at Darragh Park on Saturday.
Clarke is demanding the same desire and heart from his players for the visit of the Armagh villagers.
“It’s a game we need something from and we’ll be going for the three points,” added Clarke.
“Our home form has been reasonably good and we will be going into the game with a positive attitude.”