Derry blow huge chance in race for Europe
Derry City 2-2 Shamrock Rovers
Derry City blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Shamrock Rovers as they failed to win at the Brandywell for the fifth game in succession.
Derry were coasting after two goals from Ronan Curtis put them clear after 15 minutes, but a gift let Gary McCabe in before half-time and from then Rovers dominated until a fortuitous equaliser six minutes from time.
It leaves Rovers one point ahead in third place in the race for European qualification.
Two goals in three minutes put the Candystripes in control after 15 minutes. Barry McNamee's low cross was cleared badly by a Rovers defender and it fell to Curtis who returned the ball first time beyond the despairing dive of Barry Murphy for Derry's 50th goal of the season.
The Derry fans were still celebrating, and Rovers were still rocking, when Kenny Shiels' men struck again. A well-worked corner routine saw Rory Patterson chest the ball into the path of McNamee who drilled it across goal and into the path of Curtis who gleefully swept into the net to make it 2-0.
Just three minutes later, however, they gifted Rovers a way back into the game. Gerard Doherty rolled the ball directly to Aaron McEneff who, facing his own goal, lost possession under pressure.
Immediately Gary Shaw played in McCabe and the Rovers man made no mistake, lashing into the roof of the net on 39 minutes.
Derry were living so dangerously in the second half as Rovers dominated the ball, and the Dubliners came close to levelling the game on 76 minutes when corner number seven was met with a powerful header from Dave Webster, but it was parried by Doherty who eventually punched the ball clear.
Derry's luck eventually ran out just seven minutes from time when a free-kick from wide on the right was curled into the penalty area by Stephen McPhail and it went right through the crowd and into the net. Conor McDermott tried to clear but the ball crossed the line with the referee's assistant flagging for the goal.
Derry could have won it in added time when McNamee's corner came all the way to Dean Jarvis at the back post, but Murphy, largely untested in the second half, parried at his near post and Rovers survived.
Derry: Doherty, McDermott, Vemmelund, Jarvis, Karner, Curtis (Boyle 86), McNamee, McEneff, McCormack, Schubert (Monaghan 71), Patterson.
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, Webster, O'Connor, McCabe, Shaw (Dobbs 78), Madden, Clarke (Miele 71), Boyd, Clarke, Heaney, McPhail.
Referee: Robert Harvey.