Derry City wasted an opportunity to climb to the summit of the Premier League as they played out a scoreless draw with a resilient Dundalk side at the Brandywell.
In what was a fairly poor game, the Candystripes just about shaded it in quality in a game which Gerard Doherty had very little to do. It looked as if it was going to be cracker, when after 30 seconds Patrick McEleney broke through and fizzed a shot in which brought a terrific save out of Peter Cherrie, but the game then reverted to a disjointed midfield affair with both sides giving the ball away regularly.
In fact the first action after this of any note was when Colin Hawkins, a doubt before the game, pulled up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Nathan Murphy. In the 22nd minute a rare mistake by Stuart Greacen let Keith Ward in one on one with Doherty, but the ever reliable Derry netminder was equal to the task.
In the 28th minute, an almighty goalmouth scramble could have resulted in Graecen, McEleney or McLaughlin scoring but somehow the Dundalk rearguard survived. Shortly after this Stephen Maher became the first name in Mr Tuites’ book as he hauled down James McClean. The rest of the half was mainly played out in the visitors half with half chances falling to Ryan McBride, Eamon Zayed and James McClean.
Stephen Kenny made a tactical substitution at the break, bringing on the returning Kevin Deery for Stephen McLaughlin and shifting Gareth McGlynn to the right wing, but it was the Lilywhites who came out more positively after the break. The first real chance though came for Derry when Simon Madden misjudged a back header and McEleney almost punished him but Peter Cherrie was sharp enough to spare his captains’ blushes.
After this there was again a few half chances, mainly for the home side and Mark Quigley saw a long range free kick sail over the bar to the relief of Doherty. In the 83rd minute the ball fell to David McDaid, on for McEleney, outside the box, but with Cherrie stranded, his first time shot was agonisingly wide.
The 90th minute brought some excitement after Mark Quigley was booked for obstructing McCallion and Derry threw almost everyone forward in search of a winner. McClean crossed to McDaid, whose excellent header was cleared off the line and somehow Cherrie managed to get in the way of Eamon Zayed's rebound which looked almost certain to cross the line.
Overall Derry may feel hard done by not to come away with all three points but Dundalk defended admirably and that will encourage Ian Foster as the league heads into its mid season break.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Eddie McCallion, Stewart Graecen, Ryan McBride, Daniel Lafferty; Stephen McLaughlin (Kevin Deery 46), Gareth McGlynn, Barry Molloy(c), James McClean; Patrick McEleney (David McDaid 78), Eamon Zayed.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Thomas McMonagle, Emmett Friars, Ruairi Harkin, Michael McCrudden.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Carl McHugh, Colin Hawkins (Nathan Murphy 18), Simon Madden (c), Dean Bennett; Keith Ward, Stephen Maher, Daniel Kearns, Greg Bolger; Mark Quigley, Mark Griffin (Johnny Breen 78).
Subs not used: Paul Murphy, Phillip Duffy.
Bookings: Maher (31), Quigley (90).
Referee: Paul Tuite.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ryan McBride (Derry City).