A quick-fire Sean Boyd double wasn’t enough for Finn Harps as they drew 2-2 with St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park on Friday night.
An action-packed first-half with four goals in the space of eight minutes looked like it was going to set the tone, but a quieter second half meant that both sides ended up leaving with a point each.
After a cagey opening 15 minutes where Pats shaded possession the game shot into life when Billy King opened the scoring. Jamie Lennon picked out the ever-dangerous Darragh Burns with a cross field pass who crossed for King to finish.
The flood gates proceeded to open and three more goals were scored in the space of eight minutes.
Harps hit back straight away, striker Sean Boyd struck a free-kick which seemed to go through The Saints wall leaving Josh Keely, who was making his first league start, with no chance.
The 18-year-old was picking the ball out of his net for the second time shortly after. The away side gestured that they were going to try a long throw but Barry McNamee caught Pat’s napping. He went short, received the throw and crossed for Boyd to head in.
Just three minutes later the home side were level. Lennon played a lovely clipped ball to find Burns, who had made a run in behind Harps defence, before heading in.
It wasn’t just goals either; Harps manager Ollie Horgan was booked along with Kosovar Sadiki, Boyd, Sam Bone and Lennon.
The second-half couldn’t compete for incidents but it did start brightly. Substitute Adam Foley nearly makes the perfect impact on 47 minutes; he capitalized on a stray pass from Alfie Lewis but shot wide from just inside the box
Although both sides had half-chances there was an air that they were happy with a point. Harps were arguably more in need of the win but it didn’t feel like they ever made a push for it.
Leaving top scorer Tunde Owalabi on the bench until the dying minutes and replacing Dan Hawkins with the more defensive minded John Dunleavy were signs they saw it as a point gained.
Just before the hour mark, Ethan Boyle had a header cleared off the line and both sides had appeals for penalties that were waved away.
The crucial moment for Harp’s came on the 82nd minute, Darragh Burns was fouled by Sadiki on the right wing and then the centre half proceeded to kick the ball at Burns and was duly sent off. He will now be suspended for the Ballybofey sides run in as they aim to avoid relegation.
Sadiki’s manager joined him in stand just moments after as Neil Doyle sent off Horgan for an incident on the touchline.
Along with Mark McGinley who limped off in the first half both men could be crucial absentees in the coming weeks.
With the extra man Pats proceeded to boss the final minutes and sub Chris Forrester had a shot cleared off the line and another shot blocked by Barry McNamee that looked a certain goal.
Sligo losing to Derry means that Pat’s have secured 2nd place while Harps will only know if the point is a good one when Waterford play Longford on Saturday. If the Blues win they will go two points ahead of their relegation rivals with one game left.
St Patrick's Athletic: Josh Keeley; Shane Griffin (Kyrian Nwoko), Lee Desmond, Sam Bone; Jason McClelland, Alfie Lewis, Jamie Lennon (Chris Forrester), Darragh Burns, Robbie Benson; Matty Smith Billy King
Subs not used: Barry Murphy; Jak Hickman, Paddy Barrett; Nahum Melvin-Lambert
Booked: Bone, Lennon
Finn Harps: Mark McGinley (Gerard Doherty); Ethan Boyle, Jordan Mustoe, Kosovar Sadiki, David Webster; Mark Coyle, Barry McNamee, Karl O'Sullivan (Adam Foley), Will Seymore; Dan Hawkins( John Dunleavy), Sean Boyd
Subs not used: Shane McEleney; Stephen Doherty
Booked: Sadiki, Boyd, Coyle
Sent Off: Sadiki
Referee: Neil Doyle
Attendance: 1,500 (estimate)
ExtraTime.com Man of the Match: Jamie Lennon (St Patrick's Athletic)