Saturday 29 April 2017

Doherty's heroics keep Pat's at bay

ST PATRICK'S ATH 1, DERRY CITY 1

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

REGRET was the prevailing emotion at Richmond Park last night, as a thoroughly entertaining draw was of little benefit for either side in their pursuit of Shamrock Rovers.

Level on points with each other going into this clash, Pete Mahon watched his team thwarted time and time again by Derry goalkeeper Ger Doherty, who returned early from his wedding in Italy to play a starring role. Stephen Kenny will reflect on the five missed chances by the Airtricity League's leading scorer Eamon Zayed, who had a night to forget.

By the time they reached Foyleside, Derry might finally have accepted that this was a decent point, and they get a chance to make amends when they return to Dublin on Monday to face league leaders Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght.

The game kicked off in horrendous conditions and the hosts set about their opponents at a ferocious pace for the opening five minutes.

Derry managed to gain a foothold, and with the wet conditions making life difficult for defenders, Stephen McLaughlin tested Gary Rogers with a low shot.

Zayed's off-night began with a wayward free header from a Ruaidhri Higgins cross, while the hosts might have gone in front had the sliding Dave Mulcahy managed to keep his effort down after good work from Daryl Kavanagh.

As the hailstones and thunder abated, the game assumed a more regular pattern, with Derry having plenty of ball and Pat's looking dangerous going forward.

Zayed headed another Higgins ball across the goal, while Doherty had to be at his best to save from Danny North as both sides continued to press.

It was the Candystripes who broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark. McLaughlin drifted off the left wing, took Higgins' pass and turned Evan McMillan before sending a low shot past Rogers.

The locals were stunned and it could have been worse when Higgins again split the defence with a delightful ball, only for Zayed to miss the target from eight yards.

The hosts got back on terms before the break, with Neil Harney's early ball catching the Derry defence napping and North took full advantage with a simple finish.

The English striker had a number of opportunities to put his side ahead as the Saints started the second half as they had the first. Shane McEleney did well to prevent a repeat of the goal, then Doherty pulled off another good save, before Mulcahy found North on the edge of the box but he fired just wide.

Reactions

In between, Doyle had an excellent volley saved by the reactions of Doherty, who then foiled Anto Murphy's close-range effort.

Derry were under the cosh, but in a rare foray forward, Zayed's miserable evening continued as McGlynn picked him out unmarked but he headed wide from inside the six-yard box.

Doherty bravely took one for the team when diving at the feet of Mulcahy, while at the other end the Saints escaped as Daniel Lafferty's superb curling free-kick hit the post and stayed out.

City finished the stronger but Zayed confirmed it was a night to forget when his header from McLaughlin's cross was saved by Rogers.

ST PATRICK'S ATH -- Rogers; Harney (Keegan 89), E McMillan, Shortall, Bermingham; Murphy, Bradley, Mulcahy, Doyle; Kavanagh, North.

DERRY CITY -- Doherty, Molloy, Greacen, S McEleney, Lafferty; McGlynn, Higgins, Deery, McLaughlin; P McEleney (Harkin 62), Zayed.

REF -- A Kelly (Cork).

Irish Independent

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