Dundalk produced a battling display to deny Derry City victory at Oriel Park on Friday night. In a match which had its own controversy, with 15 minutes to go the Candystripes took the lead through David McDaid before Chris Shields equalised for the Lilywhites with five minutes remaining.
Dundalk could have been behind if the linesman had judged Robert Waters’ header to have gone over the line but they will count themselves lucky not to have been behind earlier.
Dundalk almost opened the scoring with their first attack. Derry City goalkeeper Gerard Doherty’s clearance fell to Mark Griffin but his shot was straight at the recovering goalkeeper. Within moments Derry City almost punished the hosts. David McDaid received the ball on the right hand side of the box and his volley was easily saved by Peter
The Candystripes saw a lot of the ball in the opening quarter of an hour but failed to do much with it. Stephen McLaughlin headed a Patrick McEleney cross wide of the target before Dundalk had a penalty shout turned down as Mark Griffin went tumbling in the visiting penalty area.
Dundalk nearly scored after 26 minutes when a scramble in the area saw the Lilywhites force some good blocks from the Derry City back-line as Mark Griffin and then Robert Waters were denied. Two minutes later, though, Derry almost broke the deadlock. A mix up on the left hand side saw Stephen McLaughlin get free and play a great cross for David McDaid but he could only direct the ball off the crossbar.
Griffin and Gary Shanahan then both missed headers off the same cross before Ryan McBride somehow headed over from six yards when unmarked for Derry City. Dundalk finished the half stronger and Griffin almost scored from 20 yards after being played in by Paul Walsh but his strike was nervously parried by Gerard Doherty. That would be the final action of the half and the teams were level at the interval.
The second half was slow to get going with Derry City having all of the ball. After a spell of pressure, the Candystripes almost opened the scoring. Owen Morrison got a cross in from the right and he found Stephen McLaughlin who brilliantly got his shot away. It beat Peter
Cherrie all ends up but it hit the post. Cherrie then made two comfortable saves from Patrick McEleney and Conor Murphy before, on 62 minutes, Dundalk almost scored on a rare foray out of their half.
Robert Waters found space 25 yards from goal and his shot was deflected making it tricky for goalkeeper Doherty but he did well to push over. Now, cue the controversy! Nathan Murphy took the corner and it was headed by that man Waters. The ball appeared to cross the goal line to give Dundalk the lead but the linesman disagreed and Derry City cleared.
That decision would cost Dundalk as 10 minutes later the visitors took the lead. After a sweeping move from defence right through to attack, McLaughlin’s cross found the unmarked McDaid who made no mistake, this time from three yards, to give the Foylesiders a deserved lead.
Shanahan almost equalised for Dundalk minutes later but his shot on the stretch was hit over the bar. Then with five minutes remaining, Dundalk equalised. After a good spell by the home side, which included three corners, Mark Griffin’s cross found the unmarked Chris Shields who headed home from inside the six yard area.
Dundalk indeed had chances to win it in injury time with first Michael Rafter who shot wide from just inside the box and then John Mountney who blasted over from 20 yards. It was to finish all square however and Dundalk claimed a valuable point while Derry City are left to rue their missed chances.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Ben McLaughlin, Derek Foran, Chris Shields, Nathan Murphy; Paul Walsh, John Mountney, Robert Waters (Michael Rafter 66), Stephen McDonnell (Peter Thomas 80); Gary Shanahan, Mark Griffin.
Subs not used: Finnian Farrelly (GK), Philip McCabe, William Woods, Garreth Brady, Chris Reilly.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Dermot McCaffrey; Owen Morrison (Mark Farren 82), Barry Molloy, Patrick McEleney, Stephen McLaughlin; Conor Murphy, David McDaid.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry (GK), Marc Brolly, Ryan Curran, Barry McNamee, Matthew Rooney, Eddie McCallion.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Stephen McLaughlin (Derry City).