McEneff keeps cool to salvage a draw for battling Candystripes
Derry City 2 St Pat’s Athletic 2
Aaron McEneff scored a late equaliser as Derry City came from behind to claim a point for the third game in succession.
In a thrilling game at Maginn Park, the Candystripes came from behind twice and missed a number of chances throughout, with St Patrick’s goalkeeper Conor O’Malley producing a man of the match display.
The game very nearly exploded into life on 10 minutes when McEneff burst forward from midfield and with space opening up in front of him, he blasted a shot at goal.
The ball had too much power for O’Malley, who could only parry it to Lukas Schubert, but he could not direct the rebound on target, slicing the ball wide, with Barry McNamee coming close to forcing it over the line, but he was quickly ruled offside.
The Candystripes were knocking on the St Pat’s door, but just as they were building momentum, they got caught out by a goal at the other end.
It was simplicity itself for the Dubliners as Conan Byrne held the ball up on the edge of the Derry area before slipping it through for the run of Kurtis Byrne, who slid the ball through the legs of Gerard Doherty and into the net.
Derry’s response, however, was superb and they would have drawn level immediately only for a brilliant double save from O’Malley.
The St Pat’s goalkeeper did well to deny Mikhail Kennedy from 10 yards but his save from Harry Monaghan’s rebound volley was incredible, the shot-stopper somehow pushing the ball over the crossbar.
Derry, to their credit, kept their heads up and they continued to pummel the Pat’s goal, but O’Malley was in fine form and produced another double save, this time to deny Ben Doherty, who drove into the area unmarked. His shot and resultant rebound were both saved brilliantly by the Pat’s goalkeeper.
There was no doubt that the Pat’s defence was hanging on, and Derry deservedly drew level on 38 minutes when Ronan Curtis drove towards the corner of the 18-yard box and when it opened up for him, he curled a beautiful shot past the brilliant O’Malley and into the top corner of the net, much to the great relief and delight of the majority of the fans in attendance at Maginn Park.
Candystripes goalkeeper Doherty could do nothing on 68 minutes as he was brilliantly beaten by Conan Byrne, who spotted the Derry captain off his line and cleverly lobbed the ball over his head and into the net to silence Maginn Park once again.
Derry kept going and just when they needed it most, another equaliser arrived on 84 minutes.
Curtis’ cross was too high for Mark Timlin, but the ball was recovered by McDermott on the right, who worked his way inside before picking out McEneff, who kept his composure to drill the ball low across goal, past O’Malley and into the net for 2-2.
Derry City: Doherty, McDermott, Jarvis, McEneff, McNamee, Monaghan (Daniels 84), Curtis, Kennedy (Farren 63), Doherty, Schubert (Timlin 77), Barry.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: O’Mailey, Barker, Bermingham, Peers, Byrne, Verdon (Kelly 45), Desmond, Feely, Markey, Byrne (O’Hanlon 79), Dennehy.
Net gain: Derry’s Ronan Curtis celebrates his goal last night