Darryl Geraghty reports from Tallaght Stadium
Derry City come from behind to snatch an excellent point against high flying Shamrock Rovers in an enthralling, open game in which either team could have claimed all three points.
With some of Friday nights Irish international heroes in attendance including Ronan Curtis, James McClean and man of the moment Shane Duffy, second played host to fourth in the glorious sunshine at Tallaght Stadium.
The first big chance of the game came from the visitors after some neat build up play down the right hand side. Junior found himself with achers of space on the wing, getting to the end line but his cross had too much pace and was at an awkward height for Barry McNamee, who couldn’t direct his header on target.
Rovers responded well, and maybe should have taken the lead themselves shortly after. Greg Bolgers long raking pass freed Dan Carr down the left wing. His low cross to the front post was met by Aaron Greene who just couldn’t sort his feet out in time.
The game really began to come to life now and it was the hosts who looked more like breaking the deadlock.
Greene had a number of chances to put his side ahead in the first but including a free header from four yards out following a Jack Byrne inswinging corner but just couldn’t find that magic touch.
The Candystripes showed some real grit and determination to weather the storm with the brave Josh Kerr putting his body on the line and making last ditch challenges to deny the Rovers threat
The second half exploded into life with three goals in just twleve minutes.
The pressure finally told and Rovers took the lead just seven minutes into the second half from a blistering counter attack. Green was set free down the right hand side, and did well to cut in on his left foot and show great vision to switch the play pick out Clarke. The wing back had the freedom of the park to settle himself and hammer home for his first of the season.
Before Derry knew what had hit them they were two down as Jack Byrne struck a beautful right footed effort from 25 yars out into the bottom left hand corner as the Declan Devines men just backed off.
It was raining goals now as just minutes later Derry gave themselves a lifeline through Ciaran Colls well directed header from a Barry McNamee clipped cross.
Coll really should have done better with a left footed strike after substitute Eoghan Stoke tee’d him up nicely on the edge of the area. The left back really should have tested Alan Mannus but dragged his shot wide of the near post as the visitors showed they weren’t giving up without a fight.
Incredibly, with just six minutes remaining, Derry deservedly got themselves back on level terms. Gregg Sloggett rose highest from a deep cross to power his header downwards, only to see Mannus pull off a great save. The Hoops keeper couldn’t hold onto it and it was Juniorwho reacted quickest to bundle home.
Rovers now potentially five points behind Dundalk, albeit with a game in hand as they look ahead to next weeks massive Dublin Derby away at Bohemians will be disapointed to lose a two goal lead but Derry showed tremendous courage and never-say-die attitude to grab a well earned point.
Shamrock Rovers FC: Alan Mannus, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Greg Bolger, Ronan Finn (c), Dan Carr, Trevor Clarke, Aaron Greene (Joel Coustrain 68’), Brandon Kavanagh (Sean Kavanagh, 45’), Joey O’Brien, Jack Byrne (Ethan Boyle 79’)
Subs: Leon Pohls, Ethan Boyle, Sean Kavanagh, James Furlong, Joel Coustrain, Thomas Oluwa, Orhan Vojic
Derry City: Peter Cherrie, Ciaran Coll, Ciaron Harkin(Aidy Delap 77’), Gregg Sloggett, Jamie McDonagh, Gerardo Bruna, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, Eoin Toal, Barry McNamee (c), Josh Kerr (Ally Gilchrist 79’), David Parkhouse (Eoghan Stokes 64’)
Subs: Nathan Gartside, Aidy Delap, Eoghan Stokes, Ronan McKinley, Evan Tweed, Shane McNamee, Ally Gilchrist
Booked: Josh Kerr, Eoghan Stokes, Greg Sloggett (Derry City) Ronan Finn, Ethan Boyle (Shamrock Rovers)