Byrne rides to rescue as Derry strike back for deserved point
Drogheda United 1 Derry City 1
After showing a never-say-die spirit – not to mention a real sense of adventure – Derry City travelled home from Drogheda with a fully deserved point.
And yet, despite the lateness of their captain Cliff Byrne's equaliser, there will be a sense of regret that they didn't get more. Having dominated the second half, after edging the first, they conceded yet another sloppy goal from a set-piece and then proceeded to miss a succession of chances.
But just when it looked like being one of those nights, fortune shone on them – Byrne scoring a 75th-minute goal, his first for the club, after Drogheda goalkeeper David Ryan made a bad mistake, failing to gather Michael Duffy's corner.
As the ball dropped, Byrne – a former Ireland U-21 captain – showed admirable composure to control it with his chest before firing it through a forest of legs and into Ryan's net.
You fancied Derry to go on and win the game. And they nearly did so two minutes later when Rory Patterson angled his run to get in behind the Drogheda defence, from where he struck a low shot beyond Ryan and into the net.
Yet it was ruled offside. That moment summed up the night as the overriding theme of this game centred around Derry attacking and the home side surviving.
Michael Duffy had one shot which hit the upright and another which was cleared off the line; Patterson could have had a hat-trick but his shots were off target.
Drogheda, in contrast, were more efficient with their conversion rate and took the lead in the 47th minute. Michael Daly took advantage of poor Derry defending to convert Eric Foley's corner.
Showing solidity and unity, that looked like being enough to get the home side another victory. No one told that to Byrne, though.
Drogheda United – Ryan; Daly, McNally, McGuigan, Grimes; Holohan, Foley, Doyle (Maher 61), Brady; O'Neill; Walshe (McCann 75)
Derry City – Gallagher; Collins, Byrne, Barry, Jarvis; Stewart, Molloy, Ventre, Duffy; Patterson, Curran (P McEleney 46)
Ref – R Rogers (Dublin)