Derry City fight back from two down to halt Dundalk's winning run
Dundalk 2 Derry City 2
If the first half of this game will slip fast from the memory, the same won’t be said of the second, which saw Dundalk throw away a two-goal lead in dramatic fashion.
Patrick Hoban’s brace had Vinny Perth’s side on their way to a sixth straight win which would have seen them cut the gap on Shamrock Rovers at the top to just one point.
The game was turned on its head, however, when Darren Cole pulled one back before Hoban was sent off for conceding the 81st-minute penalty that led to substitute Eoghan Stokes snatching an unlikely point for Declan Devine’s side.
The ending was in stark contrast to a poor opening half. Derry, with Ciaran Harkin and Greg Sloggett using the ball intelligently, looked at ease but their only real clear-cut chance came in the 18th minute when Jamie McDonagh’s cross broke to Barry McNamee, but he blazed over on the stretch.
Dundalk struggled to piece together anything of note in the opening half an hour. Daniel Kelly did his best to wake the crowd from their slumber with a jinking run but he didn’t have the finish to match.
Despite looking extremely comfortable, Derry almost gifted Dundalk the lead in the 36th minute. Hoban charged Peter Cherrie’s poor clearance down but the Scottish netminder redeemed himself by making a fine stop from Michael Duffy’s subsequent effort.
Cherrie frustrated his old employers again on the stroke of half-time, making an even better stop to get a right-hand on Duffy’s towering header.
There was a feeling that Dundalk could only get better and so it proved as they took the lead just six minutes after the restart.
Despite facing a green wall on the edge of the penalty area, Jordan Flores managed to pick out Hoban with a pass and he claimed goal number eight of the season with a low drive under Cherrie.
Goal number nine arrived on the hour mark. Kelly left the ball to run on for the advancing Sean Gannon and the full-back’s brilliant delivery was met by Hoban, who left Cherrie beaten all ends up with a powerful downward header.
Devine’s men looked beaten at that point, but they hauled themselves back into it when Cole advanced to drill a ferocious effort into the bottom corner to set up an interesting final 21 minutes.
And they pulled it out of the fire in dramatic fashion with nine minutes to go. Referee Robert Hennessy adjudged that Hoban had handled a free-kick, flashing a second yellow card at the Dundalk skipper, and when the dust eventually settled, Stokes rolled home the spot-kick to snatch a point.
DUNDALK – Rogers; Gannon, Hoare, Cleary, Jarvis; Shields, Flores (Mountney 70), D Kelly (G Kelly 83), McEleney, Duffy; Hoban.
DERRY CITY – Cherrie; Cole, Toal, Gilchrist, Coll; McDonagh (Delap 67), Sloggett, Harkin (Stokes 78), Junior (McClean 90); McNamee; Parkhouse.
REF – Robert Hennessy.