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Derry still chasing home win after King nets late leveller for high-flying Saints

Spoils shared at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

Derry's Joe Thomson and Cameron McJannet appeal for handball against Alfie Lewis of St Pat's.
Derry's Joe Thomson and Cameron McJannet appeal for handball against Alfie Lewis of St Pat's.
Image: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

DERRY CITY’S LONG wait for a home win goes on after Billy King’s 84th minute header earned St Patrick’s Athletic a share of the spoils at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

The high-flying Saints had taken an early lead when Lee Desmond’s cushioned header found the net on 22 minutes but Ronan Boyce, who netted the winner against Waterford on Friday night, turned in the equaliser just five minutes later.

Joe Thomson appeared to have set Derry on their way to a first Brandywell win since a 2-0 win over Shelbourne last October when the Scotsman volleyed into the net from the edge of the penalty area on 68 minutes.

However, King met substitute Ben McCormack’s in-swinging cross with just six minutes left on the clock to earn the Dubliners a point which keeps them in third spot.

Ruaidhri Higgins made two changes from the team which won in Waterford on Friday night with David Parkhouse and Danny Lafferty both restored to the starting line-up having served their respective one match suspensions while Will Fitzgerald and Patrick Ferry dropped to the bench.

Stephen O’Donnell meanwhile made three changes from the team that defeated Bohemians at the weekend with match winner Robbie Benson handed a starting berth alongside Shane Griffin and Paddy Barrett at the expense of Jamie Lennon, Matty Smith and Ian Bermingham.

Derry were first to threaten from a Patching corner kick after two minutes when Eoin Toal rose highest at the back post and forced a near save by Vitezslav Jaros who turned it behind for another corner.

St Pat’s began to dominate the ball and broke the deadlock on 22 minutes from their fifth corner kick of the match. Derry keeper Nathan Gartside failed to clear John Mountney’s cross under pressure from Chris Forrester and when the ball fell to Desmond, the centre back’s cushioned header found the net.

At the other end Derry forced a corner kick of their own and when Patching found Toal, the City skipper’s downward header was cleared off the line by the alert Forrester at the far post.

From the resultant corner Patching floated the ball towards the penalty spot where Toal headed towards goal and Boyce managed to turn the ball into the net at the near post under pressure from Jaros who raced toward the referee claiming he was fouled but to no avail.

The visitors really should’ve taken the lead for a second time on 36 minutes when Billy King did superbly to get away from Ciaran Coll and Danny Lafferty on the right wing before feeding Robbie Benson with a lovely pass into feet but the midfielder fired over the crossbar from 16 yards.

ronan-boyce-toe-pokes-the-ball-into-the-back-of-the-net-2452021 Ronan Boyce pokes the ball home. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Paddy Barrett needlessly fouled David Parkhouse on the edge of the Saints’ penalty area moments later and from Patching’s curling free-kick Jaros just managed to get enough of his hand to the ball to turn it behind for yet another corner.

Derry were causing all sorts of problems from set-pieces and from Patching’s corner Toal again rose highest to meet it but Jaros saved well at the near post.

With four minutes of injury time signalled Mountney crossed deep into the Derry danger area and Shane Griffin headed wide of the target before clashing heads with Boyce. It proved the last action for the Saints midfielder as he was replaced by Ian Bermingham with the teams going in at the break on level terms.

will-patching-and-sam-bone-2452021 Derry's Will Patching and Sam Bone of St. Pat's. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

The Dubliners made a lively start to the second half and when Mountney forced an error from Lafferty, Forrester latched onto the ball and sent a powerful strike narrowly over the crossbar on 48 minutes.

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Patching tried his luck from 25 yards with a well struck effort which bounced wide of the far post with Jaros scrambling to protect his goal on 56 minutes. Parkhouse then found himself one on one with Desmond after a long punt upfield but having turned his man his right footed strike went harmlessly over the bar.

Derry got their noses in front for the first time on 68 minutes when Patching’s free-kick was headed clear towards the edge of the penalty area where Thomson volleyed the ball low into the net past the helpless Jaros for his third goal for the club since joining in July 2019.

The Saints were pushing hard for an equaliser and when substitute Ben McCormack crossed deep towards the back post King powered his header past Gartside for the equalising goal with six minutes on the clock.

James Akintunde had a chance to earn all three points in the final minute of the match but screwed his shot across the face of goal and wide of the mark as Derry remain the only team in the top flight yet to register a home victory.

Derry City: N. Gartside: R. Boyce, E. Toal, C. McJannet, C. Coll, D. Lafferty (J. Malone 75); J. Thomson (W. Fitzgerald 89), C. Harkin, W. Patching; J. Akintunde, D. Parkhouse (D. Cole 81); Subs Not Used – J. Lemoignan,, P. Ferry, C. McLaughlin, M. Glynn, D. Lupano, B. Barr.

St Pat’s: V. Jaros: S. Bone, P. Barrett (B. McCormack 79), L. Desmond; J. Mountney, A. Lewis (N. Melvin-Lambert 70), C. Forrester, R. Benson, S. Griffin (I Bermingham 34); B. King; R Coughlan; Subs Not Used – B. Murphy, J. Keeley, D. Norris, K. Corbally.

Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin)

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Simon Collins

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