Rory Patterson's 12th League goal of the season rescued a point and scuppered Cork's smash-and-grab attempt after Daryl Horgan's spectacular strike
Derry City were again involved in late dramatics as Rory Patterson rescued a point in a 1-1 draw with Cork City, despite missed a clutter of glorious chanced. Darryl Horgan’s superb 83rd minute strike looked to have sealed a stunning win for Tommy Dunne’s men, but Patterson pounced on a terrible John Dunleavy back pass to equalise.
Patterson, substitute Michael Duffy, and Patrick McEleney had earlier wasted clear-cut opportunities as Derry hoped to keep pace with new leaders St Patrick’s Athletic.
Derry manager Declan Devine opted to crowd the centre of midfield, with Ruaidhri Higgins and Kevin Deery tasked to prevent the threat of Irish international Colin Healy.
With Barry Molloy employed in his usual deeper role, what transpired was a cagey start with the Leesiders dominating possession and neither side creating any openings.
After 25 minutes, Shane Duggan excellently beat two Derry City challenges before going down under pressure from Molloy, referee Tomas Connolly correctly adjudging the forward to have dived and producing a yellow card.
That the Candystripes’ best chance should come as a result of a sloppy error from the usually reliable Healy was little suprise. Under no pressure, the former Celtic midfielder passed straight to Patrick McEleney who drove at the Cork backline, but could only drag wide approaching half time.
Derry went into the game having won only three of 17 previous League meetings between the sides, and looked unlikely to improve that record. Their opponents, on the other hand, looked buoyed by relatively decent away form this season, having lost only twice on the road in seven League fixtures.
But it was the home side who started the second half with much more purpose and vigour and, after 67 minutes, Patrick McEleney picked out Patterson, but the striker’s shot was tipped wide at full stretch by McNulty.
Increasingly influential, Patrick McEleney should have scored minutes later when Duffy crossed and the midfielder’s header was off target, despite being unmarked. Devine’s men were much in the ascendency, and after Gary Buckley had denied Patterson, Higgins fired wide, before Duffy had a glorious chance but fired tamely at McNulty.
Despite Derry’s dominance, Cork broke to the other end, and Daryl Horgan curled a stunning left-footed effort over Gerard Doherty. However, there was further drama to come. With Dunleavy under no pressure, his pass back towards his keeper was easily intercepted by Rory Patterson, who gleefully tapped home to rescue a point.
The result means Derry’s worrying recent home form continues, and Devine will be hoping his men can turn that form around if they are to mount a serious title challenge.