Former Irish international's late free-kick leaves Rovers in the driving seat for Europe

The Hoops came from 2-0 down away to Derry City tonight.

Derry City's Rory Patterson and Sean Heaney of Shamrock Rovers battle for possession.
Derry City's Rory Patterson and Sean Heaney of Shamrock Rovers battle for possession.
Image: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Derry City 2
Shamrock Rovers 2

DERRY CITY THREW away a two-goal lead at Brandywell tonight to hand Shamrock Rovers the upper hand in the race for Europe.

Ronan Curtis’ two-minute brace in the first half had put the Candystripes firmly in the driving seat.

However, Gary McCabe got one back just before the interval and Stephen McPhail’s free-kick somehow found its way through a body of players and into the net to break Derry hearts.

The draw ensures the Hoops remain in third spot, one point ahead of Derry with just four games left.

Derry had enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening 15 minutes but without troubling Barry Murphy. And when Rovers got in behind the Derry defence from a long throw-in on the left after nine minutes, Sean Boyd cut the ball back into the path of Gary Shaw but Niclas Vemmelund was alert to the danger and put it behind for a corner.

Gary McCabe then sent Simon Madden scampering into the Derry box with a ball over the top but Jarvis did enough to put him off as he poked his shot wide.

Curtis put City ahead with the home side’s first effort on target on 17 minutes — his first goal since netting in the 3-0 win against Rovers back in April. Conor McCormack found the Donegal man lurking on the edge of the box and he curled his shot beautifully into the far corner of the net.

Just 70 seconds later the winger added a second when he got onto the end of Barry McNamee’s fizzed cross and Murphy could do nothing about Curtis’ close-range shot as he blasted it into the net.

Gerard Doherty had to be alert when Dean Clarke raced past Dean Jarvis on the right flank and his cross at the near post was turned behind by the Derry goalkeeper.

Rovers got back in the game on 39 minutes when McEneff’s loose pass was intercepted 25 yards from his own goal and when Sean Boyd played McCabe into space, the midfielder blasted into the top corner from 18 yards.

With the wind at their backs Derry dominated the early stages of the second half and McNamee should’ve done better from Dean Jarvis’ superb cross but he put his header well wide of the mark 10 minutes after the break.

Gary Shaw was gifted a glorious chance to equalise on 56 minutes when he got onto the end of Simon Madden’s low cross but he somehow screwed his shot wide of the far post with Doherty beaten.

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Derry almost capitalised on a quick break when McEneff found McCormack but the midfielder’s effort from 20 yards went over the bar.
Doherty then made a superb one handed save at full stretch to deny David Webster’s powerful header from McPhail’s corner on 77 minutes.

Against the run of play the Dubliners got back on level terms with six minutes left on the clock when McPhail’s inswinging free-kick from wide on the right.

Derry were applying the pressure in the dying moments of the game and Jarvis had the home side’s best chance on 90 minutes but his volley was beaten away by Murphy.

Derry City: G. Doherty; C. McDermott, N. Vemmelund, M. Karner, D. Jarvis; L. Schubert ( H. Monaghan, 71), C. McCormack, A. McEneff, R. Curtis (N. Boyle, 86); B. McNamee; R. Patterson.

Shamrock Rovers: B. Murphy; S. Madden, S. Heaney, D. O’Connor, T. Clarke; G. McCabe, D. Webster, S. McPhail, D. Clarke (B. Miele, 72); G. Shaw, S. Boyd.

Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin).

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Simon Collins

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