Brian Maher saves from the spot as Derry City held by Shelbourne

Derry City 0Shelbourne 0
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BRIAN Maher's produced a stunning penalty save to rescue a point for Derry City against Shelbourne at Brandywell as the Candy Stripes lost their grip on top spot.

Shamrock Rovers’ win against Dundalk at Tallaght moved the champions above Derry by a single point as Ruaidhri Higgins' charges have now gone two matches without a win.

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Former Ireland U21 international Maher saved superbly with his outstretched leg to deny Shane Farrell from the spot 10 minutes before the interval as the league's two best defences produced a stalemate in the sweltering heat on Foyleside.

Shelbourne will count themselves unfortunate not to have taken the lead into the half-time interval as Kyle Robinson also smashed an effort off the upright after 15 minutes before that penalty save from Maher.

However, Michael Duffy's lobbed effort from distance was cleared off the line brilliantly by the impressive John Ross Wilson and Mark Connolly struck the outside of the post during a promising Derry attack in that opening half.

Derry City keeper Brian Maher saves superbly from Shane Farrell's first half penalty. Photograph by George Sweeney.Derry City keeper Brian Maher saves superbly from Shane Farrell's first half penalty. Photograph by George Sweeney.
Derry City keeper Brian Maher saves superbly from Shane Farrell's first half penalty. Photograph by George Sweeney.

It was a tale of two keepers, however, in the second half as Shels stopper Conor Kearns produced two smart saves to deny headers from Jamie McGonigle and Ciaran Coll and he got his fingertips to Duffy’s free-kick in added time. Maher also parried clear Robinson's effort when the striker got in behind the Derry defence after a neat throughball by Jack Moylan.

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The result brought to an end Derry's two match winning run at Brandywell as Shelbourne extended their impressive unbeaten run on the road to seven matches.

Derry began with purpose and on four minutes Jamie McGonigle, restored the starting line-up, flicked on Maher's kick-out and when Duffy raced into space the winger drilled his low striker from 30 yards narrowly wide of the post.

Shels right-back J.R. Wilson sent a dangerous curling ball in behind the Derry defence seeking the run of Moylan but Ronan Boyce made a terrific clearance at full stretch, got his toe to the ball and Derry cleared the danger.

Shelbourne struck the woodwork on 15 minutes as Farrell's first time ball found Robinson in space behind his marker. The striker managed to beat the offside trap and smashed an effort off the upright.

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It was a fortunate escape for the home side and three minutes later Farrell was again in the thick of the action as he sent Jack Moylan through on goal but Dummigan did well to track his run and blocked his close range strike.

Maher's long punt upfield found Duffy and the winger lobbed the advancing Connor Kearns but somehow JR Wilson retreated and acrobatically cleared it off the line and behind for a corner.

From the resultant corner McGonigle's header at the back post was headed clear on the line by Moylan and Connolly's follow-up from a tight angle struck the outside of the post and went behind.

It was a promising spell for the Candy Stripes but moments later Ciaran Coll was adjudged to have fouled Farrell just inside the Derry penalty area. Match referee Rob Hennessy immediately pointed to the spot.

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Farrell stepped up to take the spotkick himself on 36 minutes and struck it down the middle of the goal but Maher produced a sensational save with his outstretched left leg having initially gone the wrong way.

Derry were certainly the happiest to go into the break scoreless and 30 seconds into the second half Duffy left Wilson in his wake and crossed towards Ben Doherty inside the penalty box but his header went over the crossbar.

Boyce found McGonigle peeling off his man at the back post with a searching cross on 49 minutes and Kearns got a strong hand to his goalbound header to turn it behind.

Maher was called into action once again on 54 minutes when Moylan found the run of J.R Wilson who ghosted unopposed into the penalty area but his tame, side-footed effort was gathered comfortably.

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Moylan sent Robinson in behind Cameron McJannet with a lovely reverse pass but once again Maher came to the rescue as he parried clear the striker's shot from an acute angle.

Ciaran Coll's glancing header from Duffy's inswinging free-kick was tipped over the crossbar by Kearns on 67 minutes.

Duffy curled an effort wide of the far post as Derry began to apply pressure and McEleney skimmed a powerful 30 yard free-kick narrowly off target.

With four minutes of additional time signalled Duffy fired an effort on the volley over the bar and Kearns tipped the winger's curling free-kick over the crossbar with the last action of the match.

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It was a disappointing night for the home side overall as they dropped further points in the race for the title leading into a difficult trip to Inchicore to face an in-form St Patrick’s Athletic on Monday night.

However, Higgins will take the positives and the return of experienced defender Connolly after three months on the sidelines and McEleney with his first start since Easter Monday, also getting minutes under his belt, City’s form should improve.

Derry City: Maher; Boyce, Connolly, McJannet, Coll; Doherty (Graydon 62), Dummigan, P. McEleney (McEneff 84), Duffy; O'Reilly (Patching 84); McGonigle (C. Kavanagh 75); Subs Not Used - Ryan, S. McEleney, B. Kavanagh, O'Neill, Patton.

Shelbourne: Kearns; J.R. Wilson, Quinn, Griffin, Ledwidge; Farrell (Hakiki 70) , Coyle (Lunney 81), Caffrey, T. Wilson; Moylan (Boyd 70), Robinson (Smith 65); Subs Not Used - Folan, McManus, Byrne, Toure, Temple.

Referee - Rob Hennessy.