Patterson into double figures but Derry are forced to share spoils
Derry City 1 St Pat's Athletic 1
Derry City and St Patrick's Athletic had to make do with a point apiece after an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Brandywell.
In a game filled with chances for both teams, the supporters got their money's worth with Rory Patterson opening the scoring for the Candystripes before Keith Tracey equalised midway through the first-half.
Derry boss Kenny Shiels will not have been too downhearted with the result given how ravaged his defensive options were before kick-off.
With Aaron Barry and Ryan McBride both ruled out with groin injuries, Shiels had little alternative but to play a makeshift back four with midfielder Harry Monaghan making his long-awaited return from injury as a centre-half.
There was a nice zip and pace about Derry's play early on and that quick passing was too much for St Pat's to handle as the home side took the lead 10 minutes in.
A superb passing move involving Lukas Schubert and Josh Daniels ended with Barry McNamee receiving the ball on the edge of the area. He slipped a pass through for Patterson, who slammed the ball left-footed beyond the reach of Brendan Clarke.
It was Patterson's 10th league goal of the campaign and it was the best possible start to the game for Shiels and his players.
St Pat's were rattled but they should have levelled almost immediately as makeshift defender Monaghan misjudged a simple ball forward but Billy Dennehy bent it just wide with Gerard Doherty beaten.
Derry were invigorated by their opener, however, and within minutes it was almost 2-0. Schubert sent a brilliant bending effort at goal, and Clarke had to be at his absolute best to tip the ball onto the upright.
Derry kept coming forward and Aaron McEneff came close again, breaking into the area and curling a shot just wide.
The game, though, turned suddenly in the 23rd minute when St Pat's equalised out of the blue.
A four-man move ended in a shooting opportunity for Keith Tracey on the left and he showed great composure to roll the ball beyond Doherty and into the back of the net.
Now it was St Pat's with the initiative and Derry had Doherty to thank twice in quick succession as he saved a near-post effort from Christy Fagan before denying Sean Hoare from point blank range after a superb cross from Tracey.
Derry were slowly but surely building momentum once again in the second-half and McEneff had the crowd on the edge of their seats when he burst from midfield and, with no St Pat's defenders closing him down, sent a brilliant drive goalwards, with the ball again flashing past Clarke's post.
But for all of Derry's dominance, St Pat's should have taken the lead on 74 minutes when Graham Kelly sent Dennehy through on goal.
Dennehy was one-on-one against Doherty but yet again the goalkeeper came to his team's rescue with a brilliant stop.
The final 10 minutes saw Derry continue to push while St Pat's looked to steal all three points on the counter attack and it was the hosts who almost nicked it as Ronan Curtis' corner into the heart of the penalty area was met by Niclas Vemmelund, but he glanced his header just wide of the upright.
Derry City: Doherty, Vemmelund, Jarvis, McEneff, McCormack, McNamee (Doherty 86), Monaghan, Patterson, Daniels (Curtis 70), McDermott, Schubert (Boyle 61).
St Pat's: Clarke, O'Brien, Bermingham, Dennehy, Hoare, Cawley (Kelly 19), Byrne (Kinsella 70', Tracey (Verdon 81), Fagan, Timlin, Dennehy. Referee: Paul Tuite.