Derry City's unbeaten home record continues as leaders Cork held at Brandywell
Derry City 0, Cork City 0
AARON McEneff struck the post in stoppage time as Derry City held champions Cork City to a scoreless draw at a sold out Brandywell Stadium as the Candy Stripes' unbeaten home record continues.
The midfielder's inswinging cross bounced off the inside of the post and fortuitously into the hands of Cork keeper, Mark McNulty on 91 minutes during a dramatic finale to an entertaining encounter.
The point was enough to retain top spot for the Leesiders but their three point lead was cut to one with Dundalk defeating Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park. However, John Caulfield will no doubt be content to return to Turners' Cross with a valuable point in tow.
It was the Candy Stripes' second successive scoreless draw in the league at Brandywell and they came so agonisingly close to snatching victory in stoppage time with McEneff's effort.
However, Cork also had their chances at the death as Jimmy Keohane was denied by a brave save at close quarters by Gerard Doherty before Sean McLoughlin headed over the bar from the resultant corner.
Nicky Low had passed a late fitness test to make the starting XI while Rory Patterson returned to lead the line and Conor McDermott slotted in at right back. Gavin Peers and Ben Doherty dropped to the bench.
Caulfield made just one change from the team which defeated Limerick at Turners Cross last weekend with Shane Griffin preferred to Steven Beattie at left full-back.
It was a high tempo start from Derry who forced two corner kicks in the opening three minutes. And from the second Ronan Curtis - who is edging ever nearer to a move to Portsmouth - glanced his header just wide of the near post from Low's delivery.
Cork's Keohane found himself in space deep inside the Derry half but blasted high and wide before Patterson dragged his shot off target almost immediately at the other end.
Derry were on top and left back, Jack Doyle came close on 15 minutes when he latched onto the ball, after a neat dummy from the impressive McEneff, but his shot with his weaker right foot sailed wide.
It was a cagey start to the second half and temperatures were raised after referee, Paul McLoughlin dished out bookings to McEneff and Conor McCormack inside three all action minutes.
McDermott made a marauding run from right back, cut inside before his low drive from the edge of the penalty area was gathered safely by McNulty. It was the game's first shot on target on the hour mark!
Kieran Sadlier was introduced on 61 minutes at the expense of former Brandywell favourite, Barry McNamee as Caulfield tried to add some spark to the flat Cork attack.
And within seconds the midfield man was involved in a promising Cork move as he played Sheppard into space on the left flank. Sheppard's cross was headed back across goal by Buckley and Keohane shot over the crossbar from four yards.
Rory Hale then tried to bend the ball into the corner of the net with a beautifully disguised effort from 25 yards but it bounced just wide of the unguarded left post.
There were claims for handball by the home support on 77 minutes when Patterson's cross appeared to strike the outstretched arm of McLoughlin but the referee wasn't convinced. And it would've been harsh had he pointed to the spot!
Patterson came close on 79 minutes when his looping header from Curtis' inswinging cross from the left spun onto the roof of the net.
Caulfield's substitutions were having a positive impact and Steven Beattie's inviting cross into the six yard just needed a touch but it narrowly evaded the boot of fellow sub, Josh O'Hanlon.
Sadlier then picked up the loose ball, cut inside and his low strike was put behind by the alert Gerard Doherty who saved with his feet at the near post.
Derry finished strongly and Low's left footed strike from outside the box was deflected just wide of the post in stoppage time.
McEneff then whipped in a cross from the left flank on his right foot and it struck the inside of the far post and fortuitously bounced into the arms of the relieved McNulty.
Straight up the other end Beattie found Keohane six yards from goal and Doherty bravely blocked his shot at his feet to send the ball behind for a corner. From the resultant set-piece McLoughlin headed over the bar as both sides settled for a share of the spoils.,
Derry City: G. Doherty; C. McDermott (J. McDonagh 88), D. Cole, E. Toal, J. Doyle; R. Hale, N. Low, Rory Hale, R. Curtis; A. McEneff; R. Patterson (N. Boyle 83); Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, J. Cofie, G. Peers, B. Doherty, N. Logue.Cork City: M. McNulty; C. Horgan, S. McLoughlin, A. Bennett, S. Griffin; K. Sheppard (S. Beattie 78), J. Keohane, C. McCormack, B. McNamee (K. Sadlier 61); G. Buckley; G. Cummins (J. O'Hanlon 71); Subs Not Used - P. Cherrie, D. Kane, A. Barry, C. McCarthy.Referee - Paul McLoughlin.