Saturday 14 December 2019

Drogheda and Derry share the spoils in four-goal thriller

Philip Lowry, Derry City, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal
Philip Lowry, Derry City, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal

It was a night when one side were reduced to eight men and the other to tears. And a night when Derry earned a replay the hard way, scoring six minutes from time through Philip Lowry.

Drogheda United 2 Derry City 2

Until then they panicked and for this reason as well as the fact that Drogheda’s goalkeeper, Micheal Schlingermann, had the game of his life, a replay was earned.

Tuesday’s replay at the Brandywell may prove a bridge too far for the Boynesiders. For starters, they have four players suspended. Plus they must deal with the mental baggage of this crazy game.

Addressing all these issues won’t come easily to Damien Richardson. But last night his side coped with setback after setback.

They started poorly, going a goal behind on 12 minutes when Ryan McBride crashed home a shot from 12 yards. Ahead, and completely in control, Derry looked like advancing with the minimum of fuss.

Instead they created as much trouble for themselves as possible. First, they proved incapable of coping with Drogheda’s set-plays, coughing up one goal from a first half corner to Alan McNally and then a second on 49 minutes from a free kick, headed in by Mick Daly.

The bigger issue, though, surrounded referee Derek Tomney, who sent off three Drogheda players – Peter McGlynn on 31 minutes, Shane Grimes on 47, Gavin Holahan on 90.

Against nine men for the bulk of the second half, Derry panicked, missing chance after chance, Rory Patterson their chief culprit.

In response, Drogheda were magnificent, defending bravely but also cleverly, changing their formation to suit the circumstances, ending up with seven outfield players camped on the edge of their box as Derry seemed to be running out of ideas.

However six minutes from time, Derry finally equalised, when Lowry banged in their equaliser. They could have had a winner too. Patterson had another chance to win it. He blew it.

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