Eight man Drogheda United will have another chance to progress to the semi-final of the FAI Cup after they held Derry City to a 2-2 draw in a controversial clash at United Park.
Peter McGlynn was sent off for United on the half hour mark with the score at 1-1 after Alan McNally cancelled out Ryan McBride’s opener before Shane Grimes was dismissed for foul and abusive language by referee Derek Tomney.
McNally then headed the nine men back in front on 52 minutes and it appeared as though the hosts would hold on for a famous win before Phillip Lowry equalised for the dominant Candystripes with Gavan Holohan receiving a second yellow in added on time.
Derry City boss Peter Hutton made nine changes from their record league defeat to Dundalk on Monday, as Rory Patterson made his first start in a month, while Drogheda brought Carl Walshe, Ciaran McGuigan and Stephen Maher into the side from the 1-1 draw with Athlone Town last week.
The visitors looked like a side with a point to prove and they immediately put the hosts under pressure as on eight minutes Patterson flicked the ball into the path of Michael Duffy on the left wing and the midfielder’s fierce drive struck the outside of Micheál Schlingermann’s post.
City were to hit the frame of the goal again seconds later when a lofted cross into the box found Patterson in space but the striker saw his curling effort cannon back off the foot of the post much to the home side’s relief.
At this stage of the game the opener seemed inevitable and it arrived on 13 minutes when a short corner from the left between Barry McNamme and Duffy saw the latter cross for McBride at the back post to control and volley past Schlingermann into the bottom corner.
United were level ten minutes later from virtually their first attack of the game as Holohan’s corner from the right was met by McNally whose initial header was blocked on the line by Stephen Dooley but the defender reacted first to force the ball into the net at the second attempt.
The momentum of the game had swung the way of the Boynesiders before the first major talking point of the game came on 32 minutes as McGlynn was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Dean Jarvis with referee Tomney having little option but to produce the red.
Drogheda were reduced to nine men early in the second half as Shane Grimes was dismissed for foul and abusive language towards Tomney but United still went in front on 52 as McNally connected with Holohan’s delivery to divert the ball beyond Ger Doherty from 12 yards.
It was attack versus defence for the remainder of the game as the home side looked to hold onto their precious lead as Schlingermann denied Patterson twice in quick sucession.
The Candystripes continued to probe the Drogheda defence with McNamme becoming more central to their play and they were finally rewarded on 84 minutes as a free kick into the box was only partially cleared to the feet of Phillip Lowry who struck a sweet half volley into the bottom corner of the net.
City continued to push for the winner and they were to play five minutes of additional time against ten men as Holohan was dismissed for a second yellow card after Tomney adjudged him to have kicked the ball away from a Derry free kick.
The final whistle was greeted with cheers from the home side as the eight men held on but given the fatigue and suspensions picked up tonight. Derry will be heavy favourites come Tuesday’s replay at the Brandywell.
Drogheda United: Micheál Schlingermann; Daire Doyle, Alan McNally, Ciaran McGuigan, Shane Grimes; Peter McGlynn, Stephen Maher (Paul Crowley 72) Michael Daly, Gavan Holohan, Carl Walshe; Gary O’Neill (Garreth Brady 72).
Subs not used: Dylan Connolly, Paul Andrews, Declan O’Brien, Adam Wixted.
Booked: Gavan Holohan (72, 90), Garreth Brady (81)
Sent off: Peter McGlynn (32), Shane Grimes (47), Gavan Holohan (90)
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Barry Molloy, Ryan McBride, Aaron Barry, Dean Jarvis (Mark Timlin 80); Barry McNamme, Phillip Lowry, Stephen Dooley (Josh Tracey 80), Michael Duffy; Rory Patterson, Patrick McEleney.
Subs not used: Ciaran Gallagher, Shane McEleney, Nathan Boyle, Sean Houston, Ryan Curran,
Referee: Derek Tomney
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Michael Daly (Drogheda United)