Dalymount draw sees Derry City and Bohemians lose ground in League of Ireland title race
An electrical failure which knocked out the Dalymount floodlights pre-kick-off threatened to see the match postponed and when the lights finally came on a full 45 minutes after the game should have started, there was only frustration for both after victories elsewhere for Shamrock Rovers and St. Pat's.
With Ronan Boyce ruled out by injury, Ciaran Coll was deployed at right back and Derry shaded the best chances in an exhilarating game, especially after Michael Duffy and Danny Mullan goals had overturned Bohs early dominance. The disappointment though was they gifted Bohs their route back into the match, Sadou Diallo marring his 50th appearance for the club by bringing down Adam McDonnell for the penalty that gave Bohs parity.
The results leaves Derry seven off Rovers, though still with a game in hand and Rovers still to arrive at Brandywell; and on the evidence of this, there could be a few more twists and turns to come between the top four or five.
When the power was finally restored and the action got underway it was the home side who flew fro the blocks with Danny Grant and Paddy Kirk causing all sorts of bother down Derry’s right hand side. And it was Grant who fashioned the first chance inside the opening minute.
Twisting and turning away from Coll, his deep cross was headed back across goal where Ben Doherty and Brian Maher got in a bit of a pickle which gifted the ball to the feet of the one man Derry fans wouldn't have wanted it to fall to, Jonathan Afolabi. Dalymount held its breath, but Afolabi miscued from only eight yards and Bohs' dream start disappeared. Or more precisely, it had been delayed.
And with less than 13 minutes on the clock, Declan Devine's men hit the front. Again Bohs' left side was the source, Kirk getting his head up just inside his own half to thread a beautiful pass into the path of James Clarke's run in off the right. Once clear Clarke had ice in his veins and slipped his finish past the advancing Maher and into the far corner.
One down and away from home to a title rival is never an ideal place to see one of your team’s leaders hobble off and it looked as if Derry’s recent run of bad luck was continuing when Mark Connolly had to be replaced before 15 minutes had elapsed. But if the last week, and those two cup exits, has taught us anything it’s that this is a Derry squad not short on character and resilience, as they set about illustrating once more.
Bohs’ lead lasted barely 10 minutes, Derry’s gradual foothold in the game leading to Will Patching releasing Michael Duffy down the left 21 minutes in. Duffy found the supporting McMullan, making his now characteristic run in off the right. The Scot tried his luck and was fortunate the ricochet landed back at his feet but he quickly released Duffy who applied the perfect finish, firing home a fierce shot from an acute angle the bring his side level.
And it could have been even better for the visitors just after the half hour mark, Patching this time releasing Danny Mullen who did well to roll his marker but pulled his shot across goal and wide of the far post.
Bohs responded with Adam McDonnell flashing a cross across Derry's six yard box that Afolabi was inches from connecting with but it was Derry who now had the bit between their teeth and they hit the front four minutes before the break.
Again Patching was involved, his deep free-kick initially headed clear by the Bohs backline. With the home side pushing out, Coll brilliantly recycled the clearance first time and his centre saw Mullen rise above Radkowski to loop a superb header over the stranded James Talbot and into the net to complete Derry's first half turnaround.
And Derry began the second half as they had finished the first, McMullan seeing his snapshot from 18 yards gathered at the second attempt by Talbot. Next Duffy danced away from a couple of challenges on half-way to slide a lovely ball in behind the home defence. It sent McMullan scampering after it but Talbot won the race, the Bohs No. 1 sliding out to nick the ball away only seconds ahead of the Derry winger.
The Candy Stripes were in control but disaster struck 51 minutes in with the penalty. The trouble started when Clake slid a ball inside Diallo for McDonnell to run on to. The pass was just short enough to tempt the Derry midfielder into a challenge he was never going to win. McDonnell got the touch, Diallo slid in and Afolabi was soon despatching the resultant penalty to draw the home side level.
The goal energised the home cause, Derry forced to withstand a couple of goalmouth skirmishes before coming again with two great chances. First more McMullan magic on the right engineered a superb near post header from Mullen which Talbot did well to tip over.
That was close but Derry went even closer seconds later when a training ground corner routine saw McMullan pick out Ben Doherty on the edge of the area. Doherty stepped inside one defender and fired in a rasping drive which Talbot did superbly to touch on to the underside of the crossbar before the ball was scrambled away.
It was breathless stuff, substitute Jamie McGonigle almost clinching it in injury time, but there would be no winner – only ground to make up for both.