Late Towell goal bursts Bohs' bubble
Bohemians 2 Dundalk 2
Dundalk came back off the ropes to rescue a point from another testing encounter with Bohemians, as Richie Towell’s deflected 93rd-minute leveller provided a dramatic finish at Dalymount Park.
The champions looked to be dead and buried after a brilliant counter-attack goal from man of the match Ismahil Akinade put Bohs ahead with 12 minutes remaining.
Keith Long’s side had showed admirable character to bounce back from a contentious cup loss to Bray seven days ago, and the only team to beat Dundalk in the league this season were seconds away from repeating the feat.
However, this Dundalk group have character in abundance and it showed as Daryl Horgan stretched the Bohs rearguard and the ball was worked to Towell who mustered enough power to find a fortuitous path beyond Dean Delany and Lorcan Fitzgerald on the line and bring his league tally to 15.
The away hordes celebrated it like a victory, and it means they are eight points clear at the top ahead of a seismic showdown with Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday.
Stephen Kenny’s troops burst out with the look of a team intent on atoning for their shock Oriel Park reverse in June, and they were almost ahead within a minute when Dave McMillan’s header was denied by the feet of Bohs stopper Delany.
Gradually, the doggedness of the busy Bohs engine room, characterised by Dave Mulcahy and Roberto Lopes, started to squeeze space with Ronan Finn and Towell stifled and, crucially, the hosts grabbed the lead.
Akinade, who enjoys tormenting Dundalk, drifted to the left to swing in a cross that sailed over Dane Massey and was gratefully accepted and converted by Keith Buckley. The Dubliners could have doubled their lead when a Lorcan Fitzgerald free shaved the crossbar, and Akinade wasted another chance.
Dundalk were in relatively unfamiliar territory and it didn’t get any easier for the champions after the interval, especially with the Gypsies efficient when it came to dealing with the corners. When Towell found space to shoot, Delany produced a fine stop.
The border club chipped away and, before the hour mark, they restored parity in clinical fashion.
The natives were protesting that Akinade had been illegally impeded at the other end and, as play quickly switched, Horgan scampered down the left and squared for the unmarked Stephen O’Donnell who did the rest.
It seemed that Dundalk were turning the screw in a scrappy affair peppered by fouls from both sides with referee Padraig Sutton a persistent presence in the centre of the action.
McMillan nearly put them ahead with a right-footed drive into the side-netting that proved to be his last contribution as Kenny sent for Ciaran Kilduff. But Akinade served an ominous warning at the other end by breaching the offside trap – Brian Gartland covered well to avert danger.
Next time around Akinade made no mistake with superb control and an accurate conversion but Towell, the top scorer in the country, popped up to have the last laugh.
Bohemians – Delany, Hayes, Best, Prendergast, Fitzgerald; Mulcahy, Lopes; Buckley, Kavanagh (O’Brien 76), Evans; Akinade (Byrne 90).
Dundalk – Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; O’Donnell, Towell; Mountney (Meenan 45), Finn (Maguire 80), Horgan; McMillan (Kilduff 66).
Ref: P Sutton (Clare).