Set pieces and corners in particular were the dominant feature at the Ryan McBride Brandywell on Monday evening as Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic played out a 2-2 draw.
The visitors took the lead through the head of Lee Desmond after 22 minutes before Ronan Boyce bundled the ball home from close range to equalise after a City Corner. Derry took the lead on 69 minutes, as Joe Thompson smashes the ball past Jaros after getting on the end of a second ball following another Derry Corner. However, Pat’s claimed a share of the spoils with six minutes to go, as Billy King found himself in space at the far post before heading home Ben McCormack’s cross.
Both sides headed into the game on the back of wins. A stoppage time penalty from Robbie Benson helped the Saints to a 2-1 win over rivals Bohemians while City managed a 1-0 victory over Waterford at the RSC.
Both sides played at an intense pace, with neither giving the other much time on the ball. In the first half, the majority of free space was out wide with the likes of John Mountney and Will Patching playing dangerous balls into the box, only to have them cleared each time.
With creative players like Robbie Benson and Chris Forrester in your ranks it would be hard for St Pat’s not to create at least some half chances. One of these came after 11 minutes, as Benson played in Ronan Coughlan, but Eoin Toal got across to block the forward’s 15 yard effort.
Mountney driving down the right hand-side was a common sight on the night and after 15 minutes he found King with a zipping pass, but the city rear-guard got back to block and clear.
Derry caused some problems of their own, particularly with crosses into the box. However, like his opposite number Toal, Lee Desmond was on hand more often than not to clear for the Saints.
Pat’s took the lead after 22 minutes, as Mountney’s corner was initially punched away by Gartside, but Desmond got up and on the end of that punch before flicking a backwards header past the City net-minder and into the top corner to put the Dublin side in front.
Five minutes later and Derry were level, as Boyce bundled the ball home from close range after pouncing on a second ball following Patching’s corner.
A couple of minutes later and Patching was causing problems with his deliveries again. This time McJannet got on the end of it, but the Saints rear-guard were there to block and clear.
The Saints had a chance to regain the lead on the half hour, as Shane Griffin headed Mountney’s cross narrowly wide, but injured himself in the process before being replaced by Ian Bermingham.
James Akintunde was lively as ever and he had a chance to put Derry in front in first half stoppage time, as he twisted and turned before seeing his effort deflected wide of Jaros’ goal.
Pat’s came out for the second half with intensity and Forrester portrayed that by winning the ball back high up the pitch before unleashing a powerful effort that just evaded Gartside’s cross-bar from 25 yards.
The visitors had the ball in the net on 55 minutes as Mountney converted Forrester’s through ball, but the effort was rightly ruled out for off-side.
Derry had a great chance to take the lead moments before the hour mark, as Parkhouse twisted and turned to work space for himself before firing high and wide of Jaros’ goal from 15 yards.
Pat’s had a chance of their own moments later as King played Coughlan through, but his effort was sliced wide of the City goal.
The Saints would rue that miss six minutes later, as Thompson put the home side in front after smashing home from the edge of the box after getting on the end of a second ball following yet another Patching corner.
The Inchicore outfit chased an equaliser immediately, Forrester and substitute Nahum Melvin-Lambert both had efforts blocked before Billy King eventually equalised six minutes from time.
The midfielder found himself unmarked at the far post to head home substitute Ben McCormack’s cross to pull his side level.
Both sides had chances to win the game in the dying embers. First Akintunde did well to make space for himself in the box before dragging the ball wide of the Pat’s goal.
Then Mountney got on the end of Benson’s corner in stoppage time only to fire safely over the cross-bar from six yards out.
Next up for Derry is a trip to Drogheda on Friday night while Pat’s host Dundalk who will be licking their wounds after Monday’s 5-1 defeat at Bohemians.
Derry City: Nathan Gartside; Cameron McJannet, Daniel Lafferty (Jack Malone 75), Ciaran Coll, Eoin Toal (c); Joe Thomson (William Fitzgerald 90), Ciaron Harkin, Ronan Boyce; Will Patching, David Parkhouse (Darren Cole 81), James Akintunde.
Subs not used: Caolan McLaughlin, Danny Lupano, Jack Lemoignan, Michael Glynn, Patrick Ferry, Brendan Barr.
Booked: Ciaron Harkin (85), Joe Thomson (88).
Sent off: None.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Shane Griffin (Ian Bermingham 34), Lee Desmond, Sam Bone, Paddy Barrett (Ben McCormack 79); John Mountney, Alfie Lewis (Nahum Melvin-Lambert 70), Billy King, Chris Forrester, Robbie Benson (c); Rónán Coughlan.
Subs not used: Daniel Norris, Barry Murphy, Josh Keeley, Kian Corbally.
Referee: Robert Harvey
ExtraTime.com Player of the Match: Will Patching (Derry City).