Derry City denied first home win of season by late Billy King goal

Derry City 2 St Patrick's Athletic 2

Monday, 24th May 2021, 9:58 pm
Updated Monday, 24th May 2021, 10:00 pm
Ronan Boyce celebrates his equalising goal against St Pat's in the first half of the Premier Division clash at Brandywell. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

DERRY CITY’S long wait for a home win goes on after Billy King’s 84th minute header earned St Patricks Athletic a share of the spoils in an entertaining clash at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

The high flying Saints had taken an early lead when Lee Desmond’s cushioned header found the net on 22 minutes but Ronan Boyce, who netted the winner against Waterford on Friday, turned in the equaliser just five minutes later.

Joe Thomson appeared to have set Derry on their way to a first Brandywell win since a 2-0 win over Shelbourne last October when he volleyed home from the edge of the penalty area on 68 minutes.

However, King met substitute Ben McCormack’s inswinging cross with just six minutes left to earn the Dubliners a point which keeps them in third spot.

Ruaidhri Higgins made two changes from the team which won in Waterford with David Parkhouse and Danny Lafferty both restored to the starting line-up having served their respective one match suspensions while Will Fitzgerald and Patrick Ferry dropped to the bench.

Derry were first to threaten from a Patching corner kick after two minutes when Eoin Toal rose highest at the back post and forced a near post save by Vitezslav Jaros.

St Pat’s began to dominate and broke the deadlock on 22 minutes from their fifth corner. Derry keeper Nathan Gartside failed to clear John Mountney’s cross under pressure from Chris Forrester and when the ball fell to Desmond, the centre back’s cushioned header found the net.

GOAL! Boyce forces the ball home from a corner kick in the first half. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

At the other end Derry forced a corner kick of their own and when Patching found Toal, the City skipper’s downward header was cleared off the line by the alert Forrester. From the resultant corner Patching floated the ball towards the penalty spot where Toal headed towards goal and Boyce managed to turn the ball into the net at the near post under pressure from Jaros.

The visitors really should’ve taken the lead for a second time on 36 minutes when Billy King did superbly to get away from Ciaran Coll and Danny Lafferty before feeding Robbie Benson but the midfielder fired over the crossbar from 16 yards.

Paddy Barrett needlessly fouled David Parkhouse on the edge of the Saints’ penalty area moments later and from Patching’s curling free-kick Jaros just managed to get enough on it to turn it behind.

The Dubliners made a lively start to the second half and when Mountney forced an error from Lafferty, Forrester latching onto the ball and sending a powerful strike narrowly over.

Parkhouse then found himself one on one with Desmond after a long punt upfield but having turned his man his right footed strike went harmlessly over.

Derry got their noses in front for the first time on 68 minutes when Patching’s free-kick was headed clear towards the edge of the penalty area where Thomson volleyed low into the net past the helpless Jaros for his third goal for the club.

The Saints were pushing hard for an equaliser and when substitute Ben McCormack crossed deep towards the back post King powered his header past Gartside for the equalising goal with six minutes on the clock.

James Akintunde had a chance to earn all three points in the final minute of the match but screwed his shot across the face of goal and wide of the mark as Derry remain the only team in the top flight yet to register a home victory.

Derry City: N. Gartside: R. Boyce, E. Toal, C. McJannet, C. Coll, D. Lafferty (J. Malone 75); J. Thomson (W. Fitzgerald 89), C. Harkin, W. Patching; J. Akintunde, D. Parkhouse (D. Cole 81).

St Pat’s: V. Jaros: S. Bone, P. Barrett (B. McCormack 79), L. Desmond; J. Mountney, A. Lewis (N. Melvin-Lambert 70), C. Forrester, R. Benson, S. Griffin (I Bermingham 34); B. King; R Coughlan.

Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin)