Patterson's magic spells a dream kickstart for Derry City
Derry City 1 Drogheda United 1
Rory Patterson picked up where he left off last season with a touch to magic to get Derry City's new season underway at the Brandywell on Monday night.
The man whose goals powered Derry to FAI Cup success last November, opened this year's account with a 30-yard pile-driver just 10 minutes into the first leg of their Setanta Cup quarter-final against Drogheda United.
It was a well struck free kick and even though it did bounce just in front of Gabriel Sava, the United keeper should probably have scrambled across his goal-line a touch quicker to get behind it.
There will be pressure on former Northern Ireland striker Patterson to do the same again in next week's reutrn leg at United Park though as Drogheda's second-half equaliser means that it will be all to play for witn a semi-final place up for grabs.
A fully fit Patterson – he missed almost half of last season through injury before making his dramatic return for the cup – could make a big difference to City this season and his new partner up front Barry McNamee looks to be a shrewd close season signing from Dundalk.
And the new man, who's scored a couple in pre-season, should perhaps have opened his account for real in the 16th minute when he got on the end of a Kevin Deery cross.
However, despite being unmarked, he could only direct it over Sava's crossbar. The first half really was all Derry and they should have gone in at the break at least one more goal to the good with Rafter smashing a ball into the side netting in the 33rd minute and then just missing out on a great Patrick McEleney centre three minutes later.
There didn't appear to be any real danger as Mick Daly approach the Derry area eight minutes into the second half, but inexplicably the City defence opened up to allow Declan O'Brien all the time in the world to fire in the equaliser past Gerard Doherty.
Patterson had ended the first half being booked for diving in the hope of a penalty and Derry had what looked a much stronger shout in the 55th minute when Rafter was bundled over, but again referee Raymond Hetherington was having none of it.
Sava ended up in the book for deliberate handball in the 66th minute after misjudging a long high Deery punt forward, gathering it just outside his area but Patterson could do nothing with the dangerously positioned direct free kick – belting it uselessly at the Drogheda.
Derry City: Doherty, Greacen, S McEleney, Higgins, Deery, P McEleney, R Patterson, McBride, Rafter, Madden, McNamee. Subs: Gallagher, Griffin, R Curran, Crawley, McNamee, S Currran.
Drogheda United: Sava, Pendergast, O'Connor, Brennan, O'Neill, Baennan, Grimes, O'Brien, Daly, M Foley, E Foley, Byrne. Subs: Singerman, Hand, Brady, Hynes, Rusk, Cassidy, Gannon.
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon).