City’s last European game at the Brandywell also featured Belarusian opposition when they played Shakhtar Soligorsk in the Europa League in 2014.
City had qualified for the competition by virtue of their league placing the previous season, but there were lots of changes at Brandywell in the interim period. Manager Declan Devine departed, with Roddy Collins a somewhat surprise appointment.
Collins signed a host of new players but poor form saw the Dubliner depart early in the campaign. He was replaced by City legend Peter Hutton who had previously served a number of spells as a caretaker.
Soligorsk were an unknown quantity in the draw and with the difficulties of travelling to Belarus, where not a draw that City fans welcomed. City had decent form going into the home league, putting five goals past Bray Wanderers the previous week.
Hutton had quite the talent pool to choose from with the likes of Dooley, McEleney, McNamee all available to the Derry manager as he sought to engineer a European shock. The manager was forced into some changes defensively when Dean Jarvis failed to recover in time.
On a pleasant night at Brandywell, City fielded a 4-5-1, with Rory Patterson leading the line. Patterson joins Gerard Doherty as one of the survivors in the current squad from four years ago, whilst many others have moved on or retired.
City fielded a back four of Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Cliff Byrne and Aaron Barry which was a needs must for the home side, who were desperately short of full backs. The visitors fielded a 3-4-3 with the clear intent of getting an away goal on the night or even grabbing the win.
In truth Soligorsk took control of the game early on, forcing a number of saves from Gerard Doherty and also Kuzmianok hit the post with a long range effort. City were scrapping for possession but McEleney sent Patterson clear after a clever through ball. The striker finished and many of home crowd thought City had taken the lead, only for the offside flag to raised. McNamee and McEleney linked up well in the middle of the Shaktar half but McEleney fired wide of the post.
The visitors scored midway through the first half when they latched on to an underhit backpass by Shane McEleney. Yanush took the ball, rounded Doherty and rolled the ball cooly home to give the visitors the vital away goal. The visitors had the better of the chances before the break and Doherty had to be on his game to ensure that City only went in one nil down.
Hutton didn’t change his set up and City enjoyed a positive start to the second period. Again it was McNamee and McEleney who were at the heart of the positive attacking threat from the home side and on the hour mark they set up Patterson. The striker scuffed his shot from the edge of the box and it was an easy save for the Soligorsk keeper.
The visitors could have added a second as they broke at pace on a number of occasions as the City side pushed forward searching an equaliser. Yanush had another couple of efforts well saved by Doherty and the keeper also pushed an effort from Rios’ onto the posh. The pick of the saves from the City keeper was a point blank effort from Asipenka.
City responded as Patterson was unlucky to see his effort cleared off the line and McBride headed wide from a corner.
Unfortunately it was to unravel for City in the away leg despite taking the lead. Michael Duffy slotted home after six minutes to tie the fixtures but city wilted into the searing heat, shipping five goals to crash out 6-1 on aggregate. City were only able to hold their lead for three minutes before the home side were level on the night.
Derry City: G. Doherty; S. McEleney, R. McBride, C. Byrne, A. Barry; M. Timlin, B. Molloy , B. McNamee, P. McEleney(Boyle) , M. Duffy, R. Patterson ; Subs Not Used – C. Gallagher, R. Curran, P. Lowry, J. Tracey, D. Ventre.
Shakhtytor Soligorsk: A. Kotenko; I. Kuzmianok, A. Yanushkevich, M. Kasheuski ; S. Matveychik , I. Galiuza, A. Stargorodskyy, A. Yurevich; S. Balanovich (A. Guruli , 77), N. Yanush(D. Asipenka), A. Rios (A. Tsevan),; Subs Not Used – I. Gavrilov, A. Liavonchyk, F. Ivanov, A. Vasilevski.
Referee – Danilo Grujic (Serbia).