RODDY Collins will view this result as two points lost after his “Candy Stripes” had more or less dominated Drogheda at United Park on Friday night.
And with Ryan McBride failing to overcome an injury which he sustained in training on Thursday, Collins was forced into a few last minute changes.
Drogheda, for their part, were missing key players in Gavin Brennan and striker, Philly Hughes, both suspended, but the story of the opening half centred on Derry’s failure to take advantage of clear-cut scoring opportunities.
Both sides actually opened the game at a hectic pace but as both settled itwas clearly a case of missed opportunities for the visitors with their main hitman, Rory Patterson guilty of an amazing miss with a header from point blank range.
Teenager Michael Duffy was denied by Drogheda keeper, Michael Ryan in a one-on-one situation, the winger having weaved his way through the home defence.
With Derry clearly on top, they were caught cold at the start of the second period.
With one minute having elapsed on the clock the visitors conceded a goal which came totally against the run of play.
Drogheda won a corner on the left and when Cathal Brady floated the ball into the danger area, the visitors failed to adequately clear their lines and the well placed Michael Daly took full advantage when driving the Boynesiders into the lead.
Having lost out to a set-piece situation in the Brandywell the previous Sunday against Cork City, one felt Derry would panic but Collins’ troops refused to allow their heads to drop and they began to boss the game again.
Playing in a 4-4-2 formation, Patterson battled hard but seemed to be regularly caught out with Drogheda’s offside ploy following the change of ends.
Duffy readlly have levelled matters when substitute, Patrick McEleney, squared the ball into his path but it took a combination of keeper Ryan and centre-half Ciaran McGuigan to keep the ball out and Drogheda survived.
However, as the game wore on and Drogheda opted to sit deep in an attempt to protect their slender lead, Derry always threated and looked the more likely to score such was their dominance.
And after another few Patterson misses their manager will have breathed a sigh of relief when the deservedly regained parity on 76 minutes.
A Duffy corner caused panic in the home rearguard with Derry forcing added numbers forward and following the scramble the ball eventually dropped to the feet of Derry captain, Cliff Byrne and the centre-back forced a low shot into the net past the startled Ryan.