Niall Newberry reports from Oriel Park
Just as they did last season, Derry City came from two goals behind to draw 2-2 against Dundalk at Oriel Park in what was a dramatic encounter on Friday night in the SSE Airtricity League.
Dundalk had taken a commanding two-goal advantage through Patrick Hoban’s brace but the Candystripes fought back with a Darren Cole strike before Eoghan Stokes rescued a point from the penalty spot late on.
The Lilywhites made two changes from Monday night’s 3-0 win in Waterford with Daniel Cleary and Jordan Flores replacing Brian Gartland and Jamie McGrath, who picked up an injury in that match.
Derry also made two alterations from their home defeat to Bohemians with Ally Gilchrist and David Parkhouse coming in for Patrick McClean and Eoghan Stokes, who both dropped to the subs bench.
The visitors did arrive with a positive approach and Parkhouse fired over before Barry McNamee’s free into the box was just about diverted over by the head of Hoban and out for a corner.
The game’s first big chance also came Derry’s way when Jamie McDonagh sent in a dangerous looking cross from the right but McNamee lost his footing at the last moment before blazing over.
Both teams were cancelling each other out in what was a fairly uneventful first half although Daniel Kelly showed some exceptional skill to take it around several Derry players before planting a shot wide.
Disaster almost struck for the visitors when Hoban nicked the ball from goalkeeper Peter Cherrie.
However, the Scotsman instantly redeemed himself by producing an outstanding save from Michael Duffy’s close-range effort after Hoban had eventually squared the ball for the former Derry winger.
The Candystripes were equalling Dundalk in all areas and McDonagh planted a dangerous cross across goal which just needed the slightest of touches, much to the anguish of Derry manager Declan Devine.
Another ex-Derry player, Dean Jarvis, sent a cross from the left which was met by the head of Duffy, but Cherrie was again on hand to deny the current PFAI Player of the Year with a world-class save.
The second half started much brighter and Dundalk took the lead in the 51st minute when Flores, through the eye of a needle, found Hoban and he fired past Cherrie at this near post.
Dundalk almost doubled their advantage soon after that when Kelly’s shot from distance had Cherrie scrambling, with the former Dundalk netminder needing a couple to touches to put it over the top.
Making his 543rd league appearance, Gary Rogers equalled the record number of matches played by a League of Ireland ‘keeper and he saved from Eoin Toal’s header after McDonagh had taken the corner.
The Lilywhites made it 2-0 right on the hour-mark when Hoban got his and Dundalk’s second when he finished from Gannon’s cross and Dundalk were seemingly on their way to a routine three points and set to close to within a point of league leaders Shamrock Rovers.
To their credit, Derry never gave up the chase and pulled a goal back through right-back Darren Cole’s shot from distance on 68 minutes, which somehow found its way into the bottom corner.
The real drama came eight minutes from time when Derry were awarded a penalty after a ball was floated into the area and Hoban, who handled, was shown a second yellow and given his marching orders.
Eoghan Stokes, who was only just on the pitch, made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending Rogers the wrong way to rescue a point for the Candystripes as Dundalk’s winning run came to an abrupt end.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Sean Hoare, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Jordan Flores (John Mountney 70); Daniel Kelly (Georgie Kelly 83), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey, Cameron Dummigan, Joe McKee.
Booked: Daniel Cleary (64), Patrick Hoban (65 & 79), Sean Hoare (83).
Sent off: Patrick Hoban (79).
Derry City: Peter Cherrie; Darren Cole, Eoin Toal, Ally Gilchrist, Ciaran Coll; Ciaron Harkin (Eoghan Stokes 78), Greg Sloggett; Jamie McDonagh (Adrian Delap 67), Barry McNamee, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (Patrick McClean 90+6); David Parkhouse.
Subs not used: Nathan Gartside, Conor McDermott, Josh Kerr, Gerardo Bruna.
Booked: Jamie McDonagh (22), Eoin Toal (58) Ciaron Harkin (65), Darren Cole (88).
Referee: Robert Hennessey.
Attendance: 3,000 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Peter Cherrie (Derry City).