Sean Hoare tangles with Derry's Ghanaian striker John Cofie at Oriel Park. Picture: Ciaran Culligan
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Dundalk FC 2-2 Derry City
Dundalk's six game Premier Division winning streak came to an end at Oriel Park as a 2-2 draw with Derry City saw their narrow lead at the top of the league wiped out.
The visitors twice came from behind to earn a point. Robbie Benson and Michael Duffy both struck in the first half but goals either side of the break from Aaron McEneff - a penalty - and Eoin Toal denied the Lilywhites the victory.
Manager Stephen Kenny said this week that something had to give at Oriel Park given both teams came into the game on the back of big winning streaks. And in the end it did in the form of two dropped points for each side.
The draw coupled with Cork City's win over Bohemians means the Leesiders move onto 28 points, level with league leaders Dundalk.
Kenny made two changes from Tuesday's victory at Limerick. Stephen O’Donnell came in to replace Chris Shields while Dan Cleary returned from his lay off. Stephen Folan dropped out.
Three nights ago, Mountney gave the Lilywhites an early lead in Limerick and he was involved in the opening stages again, helping Dundalk power in front.
Robbie Benson met his right wing cross having ran off the back of McEneff. The midfielder stretched out his leg and diverted the ball past Doherty with his studs.
Robbie Benson (centre) celebrates with Michael Duffy and Jamie McGrath after putting Dundalk 1-0 up at Oriel Park. Picture: Ciaran Culligan
The home side were in control early on and had chances to double their advantage. Patrick Hoban was denied by Ger Doherty before Sean Hoare headed narrowly over.
John Cofie was making his first start for the Candystripes but he failed to connect twice when the ball dropped his way. Winger Jamie McDonagh shot straight at Rogers.
Former Derry man Michael Duffy has been in sparkling form for Dundalk this season to date and the high regard in which home fans hold him was evident throughout. Every time he touched the ball, the excitement was palpable.
When he didn’t have it supporters implored his teammates to find him. He would score Dundalk’s second moments before the break but not before Derry equalised.
Cleary was penalised for a foul on Aaron McEneff three minutes before half time. The influential midfielder lifted himself off the turf to send Rogers’ the wrong way. It was the first goal the Dundalk custodian has shipped all season.
However, Kenny’s league leaders had re-established their lead within two minutes. Sean Gannon’s strong run down the right ended in Michael Duffy bundling in at the far post.
That lead lasted for a sum total of less than four minutes however. 90 seconds had elapsed after the restart when Derry found their second leveller. Ronan Curtis forced a good save from Gary Rogers, heading McEneff’s free kick towards goal, but centre back Eoin Toal beat Gannon to the loose ball and prodded in.
The second half unquestionably lacked the quality of the first with both sides finding clear chances at a premium. Duffy curled wide while sub Marco Tagbajumi had an effort blocked.
With three minutes remaining, City's Gavin Peers was shown a second yellow card by referee Ben Connolly.
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Dan Cleary, Dane Massey; Stephen O’Donnell (Chris Shields, 77), Robbie Benson; John Mountney (Dylan Connolly, 71), Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi, 78).
Subs Not Used: Gabriel Sava, Stephen Folan, Dean Jarvis, Ronan Murray.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Darren Cole, Gavin Peers, Eoin Toal, Jack Doyle; Jamie McDonagh, Rory Hale, Aaron McEneff, Nicky Low, Ronan Curtis; John Cofie (Nathan Boyle, 72).
Subs Not Used: Eric Grimes, Ben Doherty, Scott Whiteside, Niall Logue, Cathal Farren, Jamie McIntyre.
Referee: Ben Connolly