Resilient Derry make their point
Dundalk 2-2 Derry City
Before this game, Kenny Shiels had suggested that Dundalk had a simplistic approach based on making fewer mistakes than their opponents.
The Derry City boss was preparing to disprove that thesis. Stephen Kenny's league leaders gave away the lead twice against opponents that overcame the loss of key players to make a significant statement.
They were hanging on for their point at the end, with Gavin Peers dismissed with three minutes to go, yet they succeeded where others had failed by forcing errors that upset Dundalk's momentum.
In doing so, they made a case for the argument that they are capable of staying in touch with the top two.
Squad depth would be one concern and Shiels came to Louth without three of his best players, with attackers Ronan Hale and Rory Patterson and right-full Conor McDermott unavailable.
Former Manchester United striker John Cofie, a €1m buy as a teenager, came in for a first start since his move to Ireland.
When they fell behind inside six minutes, it looked as though the Candystripes would be in for a long evening. Kenny's charges looked back to their best in the early exchanges, with the old guard coming to the fore.
John Mountney, the joint longest-serving player at the club, has come back into the side ahead of last summer's big-money signing Dylan Connolly, and he sent in a cross that was sent home by the inrushing Robbie Benson.
The Athlone man is full of confidence at the moment and it showed in a purposeful opening where Derry were in danger of finding themselves out of the game completely.
Benson's work also put Patrick Hoban through on goal and Ger Doherty did well to push his effort away. The visiting netminder also denied Mountney from close range.
Dundalk's solid defensive record - with just one goal conceded in the league before this game - had begun to plant the perception that nabbing the opening goal would pave the way for an inevitable victory.
However, a clumsy Daniel Cleary challenge gave Derry a way back in, with Aaron McEneff dusting himself down to fire home the spot kick.
That was three minutes shy of half-time, but Dundalk would still lead at the halfway point courtesy of a goal that was a tale of two right backs.
Sean Gannon sprung forward from his brief and showed desire and quality to send in a cross that exposed a tardy response from his out-of-position opposite Darren Cole, with Michael Duffy nipping in to score against his old club.
Dundalk had the initiative, but they would give it away again as Derry squared things up within a minute of the restart.
The natives were increasingly irate with referee Ben Connolly and it was a Derry free that culminated with a Ronan Curtis header and a Gary Rogers parry with Eoin Toal on hand to poke in the rebound.
Dundalk had plenty of time to find a winner, and Mountney and Duffy threatened. Derry were energetic, though, and defended their penalty area well.
A combative streak came at a cost when Peers received a second yellow, but Dundalk were short on ideas.
Referee Connolly was booed off at full time, but Dundalk will have to review their own performance ahead of next Friday's trip to Turner's Cross.
Dundalk - Rogers, Gannon, Hoare, Cleary, Massey; O'Donnell (Shields 77), Benson; Mountney (Connolly 71), McGrath, Duffy; Hoban (Tagbajumi 78)
Derry City - Doherty, Cole, Toal, Peers, Doyle; Low, McEneff; McDonagh, Hale, Curtis; Cofie (Boyle 72)
Referee - B Connolly (Dublin)