Derry City saved by Jamie McGonigle penalty at Finn Harps

Finn Harps 1, Derry City 1

By Kevin McLaughlin
Saturday, 6th November 2021, 9:55 am
Derry City's James Akintunde shields the ball from Finn Harps' Ethan Boyle. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI
Derry City's James Akintunde shields the ball from Finn Harps' Ethan Boyle. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

Derry City had striker Jamie McGonigle to thank for a battling share of the spoils, in a disappointing affair at Finn Harps.

Ruaidhri Higgins' men, not for the first time in recent weeks were lack lustre and looked tired, but when they fell a goal behind to Ethan Boyle's late header, they again had to show fighting spirit to secure a point.

Derry made two changes to their side which earned a 2-2 draw at Waterford on Tuesday night, Ciaron Harkin and Bastien Hery came into the starting line-up for Ronan Boyce and Evan McLaughlin, who both dropped to the bench.

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Derry City centre-back Eoin Toal out-jumps Finn Harps' Ryan Rainey to get this header in during Friday night's encounter at Finn Park. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCi

As for the home side they too had a double change from Monday night's scoreless draw against Drogheda United, with Ryan Rainey and Will Seymore both coming in for Shane McEleney, who dropped to the bench and the suspended Sean Boyd.

The Donegal men had the first chance on two minutes as Babatunde Owolabi latched onto Seymore's flick-on, but his angled drive from the right hand side of the box, hit the side netting.

Harps went close again moments later as Boyle's 20 yard drive had to be parried away by Derry goalkeeper Nathan Gartside.

Just after the half-hour mark a quickly taken free-kick by Barry McNamee released Jordan Mustoe, his cut-back found Owolabi, who had shaped up for a shot while inside the box, but in doing so took the ball away from the in-rushing Rainey.

Derry City's Jamie McGonigle races into the net to get the ball after scoring from the penalty against Finn Harps. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

Ollie Horgan's side, while not creating much, were the better team in the opening 45 minutes and certainly coped better on the poor Finn Park surface.

The Candy Stripes were second best for large parts of the first half and they never tested Harps goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley in the entire first half, in fact their only effort on goal came on 40 minutes, but Harkin’s tame strike from the edge of the box trickled wide.

Derry slowly started to get into the game after the break, but once again they failed to create anything worth while until the final quarter when they brought on McGonigle.

City's Joe Thomson went close on 79 minutes as his 20 yard left footed strike, which had McGinley beaten, whistled just over the bar.

On 82 minutes the deadlock should have been broken as James Akintunde clever pass over the top released McGonigle, but with McGinley to beat, the substitute's attempted lob over the out-rushing keeper, sailed over the bar.

That missed chance came back to haunt Derry, as Harps took the lead on 84 minutes as Ryan Connolly's free-kick from the left found Boyle at the back post, and the defender rose well to powerfully head home.

To their credit Derry went straight up the other end and won a penalty as McGonigle's left wing cross was handled inside the box by goalscorer Boyle, referee Ben Connolly had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and the Dungiven man made no mistake with the resulting effort from 12 yards, planting the ball low into the bottom left hand corner, to earn Derry a point.

Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley, Ethan Boyle, Kosovar Sadiki, David Webster, Jordan Mustoe; Mark Coyle (Karl O'Sullivan 68), Will Seymore, Ryan Connolly; Ryan Rainey, Babatunde Owolabi (Luke Rudden 91), Barry McNamee (Adam Foley 77).

Derry City: Nathan Gartside, Jack Malone (Will Fitzgerald 85), Eoin Toal, Cameron McJannet (Ronan Boyce 77), Ciaran Coll, Danny Lafferty; Ciaron Harkin, Bastien Hery (Jamie McGonigle 72), Joe Thomson; James Akintunde, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.

Referee: Mr Ben Connolly (Dublin).