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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul O'Hehir

Derry City 0 St Patrick's Athletic 0: Candystripes left to rue missed chances as Shamrock Rovers leapfrog them in the table

DERRY CITY should have been home and hosed well before their late and fruitless scramble to find a winner.

Injury-time goals have been a forte for the Candystripes this season - a knack that served champions Shamrock Rovers so well for the last two seasons.

But perhaps Derry have been to the well once too often because their failure to capitalise on a game they bossed saw them surrender top spot.

Maybe the pressure is starting to show because the six-point lead they enjoyed over the Hoops has evaporated in the blink of an eye.

After a second home draw in three days, they now trail their chief title rivals by a point going into Friday’s big top-two clash in Tallaght.

And to compound the frustration, star turn Patrick McEleney was forced off with an injury in the dying stages having only come on as a sub midway through the second-half.

At Richmond Park 10 days ago, Derry ruthlessly filleted St Pat’s 4-0 with a dazzling display.

Saints centre-backs Joe Redmond and Tom Grivosti were torn apart that night by the Candystripes’ electrifying attack.

But the pair, along with goalkeeper Joseph Anang, were responsible for earning a point here that looked highly unlikely for long spells.

Derry dominated all areas of the pitch and initially pulled St Pat’s from pillar to post with Brandon Kavanagh and Ronan Boyce trying to torment Anto Breslin early on.

The Saints defender was entrusted with keeping a lid on both players, with Kavanagh full of trademark wizardry while Boyce had so much space to attack.

And Derry bossed midfield too, with Cameron Dummigan maintaining his fine form of late alongside Will Patching who reverted to a deeper role.

Chris Forrester didn’t get a sniff up against them and while Adam O’Reilly never lacked for effort, the Dubliners had to concede that battle ground.

Derry were queuing up to pepper the Saints goal and Anang had to tip a Danny Lafferty header to safety from a Patching corner.

Grivosti then did enough to stifle Jamie McGonigle - the league’s top scorer - from connecting to a Matty Smith ball to the near post.

And there was no let up.

Kavanagh flashed a ball over the crossbar from the edge of the box while Shane McEleney wasn’t far away with a header from another Patching corner.

Patching and Kavanagh - to the fore in that 4-0 win at Richmond 10 days ago - both unleashed shots from distance that were always rising.

And McGonigle and Eoin Toal both forced good saves from Anang before the break, by which time St Pat’s were glad to hear the shrill of Rob Hennessey’s whistle.

But for all their possession, Derry were making hard work of finding the net and the longer their search went on, the less composed they became.

In turn, St Pat’s - still struggling to break deep into enemy territory - were more purposeful than they had been and Darragh Burns’s arrival helped matters.

Still, by no means were they out of the woods and Grivosti’s full stretch block to deny McGonigle a sure fire goal was as brave as it was vital.

Struggling to unlock those stubborn Saints, Derry summoned Patrick McEleney - rested with Friday in mind - from the bench along with James Akintunde.

And McEleney unleashed a low drive from distance that beat Anang but crashed off the upright and back into play before being hacked clear.

After Forrester stabbed a shot wide at the other end, Derry should have finished off their rivals late on with a four-on-one break only for McGonigle to find Anang.

McEleney’s late injury just compounded the host’s frustration ahead of a mouthwatering clash in Tallaght on Friday.

DERRY CITY: Maher 6; Boyce 7, Toal 7, S McEleney 7, Lafferty 7; Dummigan 7, Patching 7;

Kavanagh 7, Thomson 6 (P McEleney 68, 6, McLaughlin 86, 5), Smith 6 (Akintunde 68, 6); McGonigle 7

ST PAT’S: Anang 7; Curtis 7, Redmond 7, Grivosti 8, Breslin 7; O’Reilly 6, Forrester 6; King 6, McClelland 5 (Burns 59, 6), M Doyle 5 (K Robinson 65, 6); E Doyle 6.

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