Derry City 1, Athlone Town 1
RORY Patterson spared Derry City’s blushes at Brandywell tonight as the striker netted an equalising strike to salvage a point against bottom of the table Athlone Town.
It was Patterson’s 19th strike of the campaign but Derry really should have went on to win this match as they twice struck the post and had a shot cleared off the line.
And if it wasn’t for Athlone keeper, Ryan Coulter - the son of one of the city’s best known personalities, Phil Coulter who was present in the stands - who produced two fantastic saves from Patterson and Patrick McEleney, City would certainly have claimed maximum points.
The midlanders had stunned their hosts on 10 minutes when Derek Doyle was played into space by Sean Brennan and he got in between the two City centre halves all too easily and poked the ball past Doherty.
The ball struck both posts before trickling over the line to give Athlone the early advantage - that goal taking them off bottom spot in the league for the first time this season!
Derry came so close to equalising one minute later from Stephen Dooley’s free-kick which was flicked on towards the back post but Ryan McBride couldn’t get a telling touch and Coulter gathered.
Ten minutes later Philip Lowry rose highest to meet Mark Timlin’s corner and his header was cleared off the line by Eric Foley.
It was only a matter of time before Derry broke Athlone’s resolve and the equaliser duly arrived on the half hour mark.
Dooley’s cross was headed clear but it fell to Patterson just inside the penalty area and the striker drilled the ball clinically into the corner.
Patrick McEleney should have added a second when he ran through on goal, side-stepped a defender inside the box but his placed shot was palmed behind superbly by Coulter,
Both sides made a stuttering start to the second half but Patterson came close to getting his second when he volleyed Dooley’s cross into the ground at the back post and it bounced narrowly over.
Coulter came to his side’s rescue with a fantastic block from Patterson on 70 minutes after the striker’s initial shot had bounced back off the far post.
Patterson did well to shrug off the attentions of his marker with six minutes to go before playing Michael Duffy into space but the winger’s shot struck the outside pf the post and went wide.
Duffy was gifted the perfect opportunity to win the match on 89 minutes when Patterson laid the ball into his path but he sliced his shot wide from close range.
But it wasn’t to be for City as Athlone dug deep to hold on for a crucial point.
Derry City: G. Doherty; D. Jarvis, R. McBride, A. Barry, M. Timlin; S. Dooley (J. Daniels 76), P. Lowry, B. Molloy (B. McNAmee 76), M. Duffy; P. McEleney. R. Patterson; Subs Not Used: C. Gallagher, N. Boyle, S. Dunlop, S. Houston, R. Curran.
Athlone: R. Coulter; B. Shorthall (I Sweeney 50), D. Prendergast, A. Byrne, K. Knight; D. Hayes, M. Hughes, E. Foley (J. O’Brien 65), K. Dillon, D. Doyle (P. Gorman); S. Brennan; Subs Not Used: P. Skinner, A. Collins, S. Dunne, D. Ebbe.
Referee - Rob Harvey (Dublin).