A late David McDaid equaliser salvaged a draw for Derry City in their first leg Setanta Sports Cup Quarter Final against Linfield at Windsor Park on Monday night.
Linfield started brightly and won two corners on the bounce but failed to put any pressure on Gerard Doherty in the Derry goal. However, it was the visitors who had the first shot on goal when David McDaid cut in from the right wing on the sixth minute only to see his effort glide harmlessly over Alan Blayney’s crossbar. Not long afterwards Jamie Mulgrew decided to have a go from long range but again it failed to hit the target.
It took just thirteen minutes before Linfield opened the scoring after their fourth corner fell to the feet of Billy Joe Burns who struck the ball goal wards and it looked to be going towards Doherty before it struck the feet of Peter Thompson and slipped by the Derry custodian. Derry found themselves under severe pressure following the goal and it took solid defence to keep the score at just 1-0.
Despite this pressure the visitors picked themselves thanks to a Patrick McEleney volley which was deflected over for their first corner of the game. Even though they put the Linfield defence under stress for the first time in the game they failed to hit the target and after a second corner the ball was cleared to safety.
With ten minutes to go in the half Burns found himself unmarked in the Derry box but his touch let him down and Doherty gathered the ball comfortably. Linfield again cut the Candystripes open when Greacen’s header just missed Philip Lowry’s run into the box. Luckily for Declan Devine’s side the ball went in behind for a corner kick which was wasted by the hosts.
At the break Derry will have been feeling lucky that they were only 1-0 down as Linfield certainly controlled the opening forty five minutes. But Patrick McEleney got Derry off to a bright start in the second half and won a free kick after being taken down at the edge of the box by Michael Gault but the free kick failed to test the Linfield defence.
The intensity of the tie picked up in the second half but neither side managed to force a save out of either keeper in the opening ten minutes of the half. Just as Derry were beginning to get some rhythm to their game Burns lifted Linfield when his effort beat Doherty but rebounded off the crossbar.
This didn’t deter the Candystripes as moments later Barry Molloy’s cross missed Mark Farren but Patrick McEleney was there to follow up only for his effort to be blocked from six yards out. With thirteen minutes to go a beautifully worked move put Thompson through on goal and handed him a superb opportunity to double his tally and his side's lead but Doherty flew off his line and saved Thompson’s effort well.
A late goal for the visitors turned the tie on its head when Molloy’s cross was headed back across the box to McDaid who blasted home the equaliser and an invaluable away goal to bring back to the Brandywell. Derry put some late pressure on their opponents as they looked to grab a late victory but the Linfield defence held strong in the closing moments to hold onto a draw.
The late comeback for Derry meant they would have the advantage heading into the second leg between the sides thanks to the away goal rule.
Linfield: Alan Blayney; Albert Watson, Jamie Mulgrew, Steven Douglas, Billy Joe Burns, Philip Lowry, Michael Gault, Robert Garrett, Damien Curran, Peter Thompson, Michael Carvill (Daryl Fordyce 71).
Subs Not Used: Nathan Hanley, Neil Dougan, Chris Casement, Gary Browne, David Armstrong, Stuart Addis.
Bookings: Garrett (30), Douglas (69), Gault (89).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Stewart Greacen, Dermot McCaffrey; Matthew Crossan (Mark Farren 59), Barry Molloy, Patrick McEleney, Ruaidhri Higgins (Ryan McBride 88); Stephen McLaughlin, David McDaid.
Subs Not Used: Barry McNamee, Eddie McCallion, Eugene Ferry, Ryan Curran, Michael Barr.
Bookings: McCaffrey (47), P McEleney (65), S McEleney (75).
Referee: Raymond Crangle.
Attendance: 2,250 (Estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Barry Molloy (Derry City).