League Report: Dundalk 2 - 2 Derry City
- Aoife Mullen
- Tue, Apr 18 2023
In a cliché ‘game of two halves’ it was a case of déjà vu for Dundalk and Derry City as they played out yet another draw in front of a crowd of 2,677 in Oriel Park.
There was an old-school feel to this fixture which was rescheduled due to the state visit of US President Joe Biden earlier this week and refixed for the ‘traditional’ League of Ireland Sunday afternoon slot of bygone years.
Both sides came into this game seeking to arrest poor runs of form. Dundalk’s defeat to Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Easter Monday saw them succumb to a third consecutive league defeat, whilst Ruaidhrí Higgins’ side suffered narrow losses against Drogheda United and table-toppers Bohemians in their last two games.
In the pre-match build up Stephen O’Donnell remarked that there has been very little between Dundalk and Derry City in recent encounters and he was anticipating that today’s match would be another tight contest.
The last meeting of the sides took place in the Brandywell last month and ended in a scoreless draw and both matches in Oriel Park last season also ended all square.
Robbie Benson, who had missed the last two league games due to suspension following his dismissal in Dundalk’s 4-0 loss to Shamrock Rovers, returned to the starting line-up and assumed the role of captain in the absence of Andy Boyle who was a late withdrawal due to injury.
Stephen O’Donnell made three other changes to the side which lost to the Lee-siders on Monday with Wasiri Williams, Keith Ward and John Martin coming in for Alfie Lewis, Rayhaan Tulloch and Daniel Kelly.
For Derry City, Jordan Mc Eneff, Cameron McJannet and Sadou Diallo were named in the starting line up with Patrick Mc Eleney, Will Patching and Ollie O’Neill making way (the latter two players listed among the substitutes).
The visitors almost got off to a dream start when Sadou Diallo’s strike after three minutes rattled the crossbar. Despite dominating the opening half, it would be a further 41 minutes of play before The Candystripes hit the target through Ben Doherty.
The Derry native initiated the attack, winning possession off Yli-Kokko before taking up a position on the edge of the box and getting on the end of a Ryan Graydon pass to curl the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
This was one of only two shots on target before the half-time break, the other coming from the boot of Archie Davies in the 39th minute. Dundalk’s frustration was compounded by an injury to Greg Sloggett which saw him stretchered off seven minutes before the break and replaced by Johannes Yli-Kokko.
In what was an entertaining second half, the pendulum swung in Dundalk’s favour with the home side scoring twice in one minute. The first came after 71 minutes when Robbie Benson nodded home from a Keith Ward inswinging free-kick – his 10th career goal against the Foyle-siders and his 75th overall.
Within seconds, substitute Yli-Kokko had his name on the scoresheet dispossessing Diallo from the kick-off and racing through to slot past Maher.
With eighteen minutes remaining, momentum seemed to be with the Lilywhites but faced with the prospect of a third successive league defeat Ruaidhrí Higgins’ strengthened his attack introducing Ollie O’Neill and former Dundalk superstar Michael Duffy for the final fifteen minutes.
The visitors bounced back, and it was Cian Kavanagh, who had sprung from the bench to replace Jamie McGonigle early in the second half, who delivered the equaliser when his header sailed over Nathan Shepperd.
Tension was palpable in the closing stages and moments after Kavanagh’s equaliser the home side called for a penalty when Robbie Benson was fouled by Ronan Boyce in the box.
Yli-Kokko’s protestations resulted in a yellow card with his team-mate Wasiri Williams seeing red minutes later for a challenge on Ollie O’Neill. Derry City failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage for the final nine minutes of play (including five minutes of additional time), and the sides once again found themselves sharing the spoils.
Derry City now occupy third position in the Premier Division table, six points behind Bohemians, with Dundalk sitting at the opposite end of the table, three places from the bottom. Both teams have a quick turnaround before their away fixtures on Friday night with Ruaidhrí Higgins’ charges due to travel south to face Cork City whilst Dundalk have a tricky tie in Tolka Park against Shelbourne.
Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd; Hayden Muller, Darragh Leahy, Wasiri Williams, Robbie McCourt (Patrick Hoban, 51); Archie Davies, Greg Sloggett (Johannes Yli-Kokko, 38), Keith Ward (Ryan O’Kane, 85), Connor Malley (Alfie Lewis, 85), Robbie Benson; John Martin (Rayhaan Tulloch, 51).
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK), Paul Doyle,
Booked: Stephen O’Donnell (62), Keith Ward (69), Johannes Yli-Kokko (80)
Derry City: Brian Maher; Ronan Boyce, Shane McEleney, Cameron McJannet (Ollie O’Neill, 76), Ciarán Coll (Michael Duffy, 76); Sadou Diallo, Adam O’Reilly; Ryan Graydon, Jordan McEneff (Will Patching, 45+4), Ben Doherty; Jamie McGonigle (Cian Kavanagh, 53).
Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan (GK), Colm Whelan, Brandon Kavanagh, Matt Ward.
Referee: Rob Hennessy
extratime.com Player of the Match: Robbie Benson (Dundalk)
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