Derry City make their point with a stunning revival
Dundalk 2 Derry City 2
Derry City produced a storming comeback to recover from 2-0 down and save a point against champions Dundalk in a thrilling contest at Oriel Park.
Declan Devine's men looked to be dead and buried after a double from Pat Hoban early in the second half but the Candystripes fought back brilliantly with Darren Cole scoring before a penalty incident, which also saw Hoban red carded, allowed Eoghan Stokes to level from the spot.
It all happened in the second half, but there were chances in the first period for both teams.
Derry had a great chance to take the lead just before the 20-minute mark through Barry McNamee.
Having absorbed some early pressure, Jamie McDonagh's teasing cross saw David Parkhouse and Junior attack the ball at the front post.
It evaded both Derry strikers and fell to McNamee, but the City captain, at full stretch, could only send the shot high over Gary Rogers' crossbar.
A world-class save from Peter Cherrie kept the game scoreless at the break. Dean Jarvis broke down the left and picked out Michael Duffy who had time and space to get a free header on goal but Cherrie, at full stretch, tipped it away sensationally.
The first action of note in the second half saw Dundalk take the lead on 51 minutes with a goal entirely of Derry's making.
With the visitors in possession, Junior tried a needless backheel that put his own defence in trouble.
Jordan Flores picked out the run of Hoban, who slotted left-footed past Cherrie with claims of offside ignored.
It was then 2-0 when Sean Gannon burst down the right and floated in a cross that wasn't dealt with by Eoin Toal, and Hoban was lurking behind for an easy headed finish.
City grabbed a lifeline out of nowhere on 68 minutes when a Duffy header only came as far as Cole and he drilled a superb low effort through bodies and beyond the grasp of Rogers.
The game turned on its head with 11 minutes remaining when a scramble in a packed box saw Robert Hennessy blow for a foul as Toal got in a header with Rogers in no man's land. As a result of the infringement, which appeared to be for handball, the referee issued a second yellow to Hoban, and substitute Stokes took control with a slow run up before sending Rogers the wrong way to level.
John Mountney had a half chance to win it in the final moments, but Toal produced some brilliant defending, putting his body on the line to block and bring an end to a superb game.
DUNDALK: Rogers, Gannon, Hoare, Shields, Flores (Mountney 70), Duffy, Hoban, McEleney, Cleary, D Kelly (G Kelly 83), Jarvis.
DERRY CITY: Cherrie, Coll, Harkin (Stokes 78), Sloggett, McDonagh (Delap 67), Parkhouse, Junior (McClean 96), Toal, Cole, Gilchrist, McNamee.
Referee: Robert Hennessy.