Pat Hoban celebrates his equaliser. Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers rescue a draw at the death to deny Derry City

Markus Poom nets injury-time header in 2-2 at Tallaght Stadium.

Shamrock Rovers 2
Derry City 2

DERRY CITY RESPONDED to adversity and Shamrock Rovers matched them stride for stride.

Exactly what you would expect from the top two sides in the country.

In the end, the spoils were shared on a night of drama that ended with Rovers rescuing a point in the 93rd minute thanks to Markus Poom’s towering header above Ciaran Coll at the back post.

Derry had come so close to making a real statement of intent when Danny Mullen scrambled the ball over the line from a corner six minutes before the end of normal time.

It would have been a far less emphatic winner than the one he struck against St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday but one that could have been even sweeter.

It wasn’t to be, though, as Darragh Burns dug out that late cross for the Estonian to pounce.

Hoops boss Stephen Bradley ushered his players back to the centre circle to try and grab their first win of the season – albeit only three games in – but that wait goes on a bit longer.

It could easily have been worse after Pat Hoban’s contentious penalty kick cancelled out Burns’ opener on the hour mark and gave Derry the initiative.

It was a raucous end to a contest between two sides who weren’t prepared to give each other an inch.

Despite the elements both started with intent, although Derry were almost punished after just 13 minutes when Gary O’Neill made the most of the space in midfield to slide Aaron Greene through on goal.

The forward drove in from the left and by the time he got his shot away the angle had narrowed and the ball fizzed inches past the far post.

So began an enthralling back and forth encounter that – in the first half at least – only lacked cutting edge in the final third.

Ronan Boyce was allowed to venture forward from right back for Derry and made it as far as the Rovers 18-year-box before he squared for Michael Duffy. His shot was blocked by the retreating Dan Cleary in the box only for the ball to be returned to Boyce as Derry maintained the pressure. His shot was then easily saved by Leon Pohls

Burke spurned a half decent chance at the back post attempting to connect with Burns’ deep cross from the right before a well-worked Derry short corner was almost prodded home inside the six-yard box by McJannet.

Derry had half-hearted appeals for a penalty on 25 minutes when Adam O’Reilly’s superb sweeping pass from the right was met by Michael Duffy on the run. Burns was on his heels, though, and did just enough to put him off his stride as he shot.

There was a bigger moment of controversy on the half-hour mark when Lee Grace was shown a yellow card for blocking the run of Boyce and then remonstrated with referee Damien MacGraith about the decision by pushing his hand into the chest of the official.

MacGraith took it that the centre back was simply trying to plead his innocence for the original foul by re-enacting the infringement and gave him a reprieve.

It was lively stuff with only goals lacking.

That would change in the second, though not before Duffy again missed a great opportunity from close range when Pohls dropped a cross under legitimate pressure from Hoban and the winger’s shot on the bounce floated over.

When the deadlock was broken on the hour by Rovers, it was a combination of quick thinking and precision that undone Derry – Burke picking out the pass to take out Ben Doherty and Burns’ early shot with his weaker right foot somehow squirming under the body of Brian Maher.

Derry responded and benefitted from a somewhat soft award of a penalty when Hoban went down under the challenge of Watts.

He made no mistake from the spot and Derry tails were up.

Ruaidhri Higgins again turned to Mullen off the bench and when he got on the end of Paul McMullan’s corner it looked as though all three points would return north.

Not so.

Rovers continued to probe and be patient down the right. Injury time was nearing an end but Burns’ concentration and technique never wavered, the on loan MK Dons winger digging out the perfect cross for Poom to head the leveller.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Cleary, Honohan, Grace (captain); Burns, O’Neill, Watts, Burke (Lopes 88), Poom; Greene (Kenny 64), Gaffney.

Derry City: Maher, Boyce (Kelly 65), S McEleney, Connolly, McJannet (captain); Doherty, O’Reilly, McEneff (Mullen 78), McMullan, Duffy (Todd 78); Hoban (Coll 88).

Referee: D MacGraith

Attendance: 4,883

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