Derry City secured European football at the Brandywell next season as they gained the point they required in Inchicore on Friday night. Stephen McLaughlin grabbed a calamitous equalizer for Derry before Stephen Bradley missed a stoppage time penalty.
The game started well for St. Pats with Sean O’Connor finding space to fire a long range effort towards goal in the opening minute. The midfielders shot was always rising and failed to test Ger Doherty, sailing over the bar.
Derry’s first chances of the game came in the seventh minute, both efforts coming from captain Kevin Deery. Pat’s keeper Chris Bennion saving well down to his left from an 18 yard volley. The Derry skipper heading the resulting corner straight at Bennion who gathered with ease.
Sean O’Connor had a fine effort cleared off the line on 11 minutes, Stewart Greacen doing well to clear with Gerard Doherty well beaten after some fine work from the impressive Dave Mulcahy in the St. Pats midfield.
The Saints took a deserved lead on the half hour as O’Connor latched onto a superb through ball from Paul Crowley before producing a fine finish, lobbing a stranded Ger Doherty in the Derry goal. Derry responded well to falling behind without really creating any chances as the first half petered out.
The opening period of the second half was quite scrappy. Jake Carroll was looking a lot more assured at left back for St. Pats having looked nervous in the opening exchanges. The full back also joining in attack as often as the opportunity arose.
The game was turned on its head in the 73rd minute as St. Pats goalkeeper Chris Bennion failed to see Stephen McLaughlin behind him and rolled the ball in front of him to clear forward. McLaughlin ghosted in from behind and slotted the ball into an empty net to send the travelling fans wild.
Derry controlled the game for the next ten minutes with the home side looking dead on their feet. Substitute Danny North finally brought some life back to Pats, the striker drawing a foul in the box from David McDaid. Stephen Bradley stepped up to the spot, the midfielder struck the ball excellently only to see his effort rebound off the left hand upright with Ger Doherty gone the wrong way in the Derry goal.
Derry City go into Europe as Pete Mahon’s side can only sit and wonder what has happened to their promising season over the past five days.
St.Patrick’s Athletic: Chris Bennion; Derek Pender, Evan McMillan, Conor Kenna, Jake Carroll; David McMillan (Anto Murphy 81), Stephen Bradley, Dave Mulcahy, Paul Crowley, Sean O’Connor (Derek Doyle 69); Daryl Kavanagh (Danny North 84).
Subs not used: Brian Shorthall, Neil Harney, Shane Guthrie, Ian Daly.
Bookings: Bradley (56), Doyle (83).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Barry Molloy, Stewart Greacen (Shane McEleney 91), Ryan McBride, Daniel Lafferty; Ruaidhri Higgins, Stephen McLaughlin (Emmett Friars 91), Ruairi Harkin (David McDaid 59), Kevin Deery; Patrick McEleney, Eamon Zayed.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Mark Farren, Micheal McCrudden, James Henry.
Bookings: Deery (38), Molloy (44), R McBride (90).
Referee: Damien Hancock.
Attendance: 1,000 (est)
Extra Time Man Of The Match: Dave Mulcahy.