Derry City 1 Dundalk 1
Derry City and Dundalk may have failed to kick-start their seasons following what proved a thrilling game at the Brandywell, but both will be happy with their levels of performance.
In what proved a closely contested, flowing encounter, both sides exhibited great commitment with the game always in the balance right up to the final seconds.
Dundalk, now under the leadership of Jim Magilton and Stephen McDonnell, probably edged the scoring chances with full-back Cameron Dummigan crashing a thunderous drive off the Derry crossbar during the latter stages after substitute, David McMillan had failed to find the net.
However, for Derry it was another dedicated affair, Declan Devine’s side refusing to give an inch and defended resolutely throughout the game.
Dundalk started brightly with Pat Hoban and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe both failing to hit the target when set-up by Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney respectively.
In the 15th minute Duffy did particularly well to deliver a cross into the danger area and while McEleney brought the ball under control he screwed his shot recklessly wide of the Derry goal. Derry took 15 minutes to work their way into this battle and Danny Lafferty’s curling free found the head of James Akintunde, but the striker headed over the bar when challenged by Daniel Cleary.
Developing into another closely contested affair, Dundalk’s cause was not helped in the 34th minute when they lost the services of their leading hitman, Hoban limping off the park with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
He was replaced by David McMillan.
Derry went close again minutes later when Will Fitzgerald broke on the right flank catching Dundalk on he hop, but Andy Boyle got back to poke the ball over the end-line at the expense of a corner.
The deadlock was broken in the 54th minute, Dundalk rewarded thanks to a superb move and a superb finish.
McEleney sent Duffy scampering clear and when the winger delivered a low cross the swiftly advancing substitute, McMillan, hammered the ball home from close range.
With their tails now up, Dundalk should have doubled their advantage within 60 seconds when Sam Stanton raced clear but in the one-on-one situation with Nathan Gartside, the Derry keeper pulled off a top drop stop to deny the midfielder.
However, Derry hit back on the hour when Dundalk failed to clear their lines and as the ball bobbled about inside the 18 yards line, Cameron McJannet gleefully forced it home from close quarters.
Derry grew in confidence after the goal and in the 74th minute the hard working Fitzgerald curled a superb free-kick narrowly over the crossbar.
Dundalk finished the game strongly with McMillan failing to hit the target before a superb shot from Cameron Dummigan crashed off the Derry crossbar minutes later.
DERRY CITY: Gartside; Boyce, Toal, McJannet, Coll; Malone, Harkin, Fitzgerald, Lafferty, (Barr, 61); Akintunde |(McLaughlin, 77); Parkhouse.
DUNDALK: Abibi; Jurkovskis, Boyle, Cleary, Dummigan; Stanton (Zahibo, 65), Shiels; Ogedi-Uzokwe (Midtskogen, 65); McEleney (Murray, 70); Duffy; Hoban (McMillan, 35).
Referee: R. Hennessy (Limerick).