Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe's late goal rescues vital point for Derry City in Tallaght
Shamrock Rovers 2 Derry City 2
JUNIOR Ogedi-Uzokwe netted his fourth goal of the season to rescue a vital point for Derry City who fought back from a two goals deficit against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
Rovers were the only team Derry had failed to take points off this season but the striker bundled home from close range six minutes from time to ensure City went into the midseason break with a healthy 32 points from 21 matches.
After an uninspiring first half, the game sparked to life with three goals in the space of six minutes and it looked ominous for the Candy Stripes who fell behind after goals from Trevor Clarke and Jack Byrne.
However, Ciaran Coll quickly pulled one back with a superb header - his first for the club - and then Ogedi-Uzokwe found the net in a dramatic finale as City closed the gap on third placed, Bohemians to three points.
Republic of Ireland internationals, Derry men, James McClean, Ronan Curtis and goal hero in the priceless draw against Denmark in Copenhagen, Shane Duffy were all present in the Tallaght stands.
It was two weeks since Derry were last inaction in a dominant 4-0 win over derby rivals Finn Harps and it will be another 20 days before they next play a league fixture against Cork City in Turner's Cross on June 28th.
Derry were unchanged from their last league outing against Harps with Darren Cole, Patrick McClean and Michael McCrudden remaining on the injured list.
City's new signing, Darren McCauley and McCrudden, who is on his way back from a broken metatarsal, both took part in the pre-match warm-up - a welcome sight for the travelling Candy Stripes supporters.
Rovers, who were going for four consecutive wins in their final home match before the midseason break, dominated the ball in the early stages, however, the visitors really should've taken the lead on eight minutes.
Jamie McDonagh sent Ogedi-Uzokwe in the space with a terrific first time pass and when the City forward cross dangerously into the six yard box McNamee stooped to head it narrowly over the crossbar as Rovers escaped.
It was a glorious chance for the Candy Stripes but the Hoops reacted and from a searching ball out from defence from Greg Bolger, Dan Carr took a touch and crossed low into the box but Aaron Greene turned the ball just wide of the near post on 15 minutes.
Rovers almost capitalised on an attempted clearance from Ogedi-Uzokwe moments later which sent Greene clean through on goal and just as the Rovers striker was poised to bear down on goal, Josh Kerr produced a superb last ditch tackle to avert the danger.
Derry were almost caught on the break on 20 minutes as Rovers upped the tempo and when Greene raced towards goal from wide on the right his low cross was cleared behind by McDonagh with Carr lurking dangerously behind him.
From an inswinging Byrne corner kick Greene had a free header from six yards but fortunately for Derry the striker headed over Peter Cherrie's crossbar as the visitors survived again.
Rovers were very much in control of the ball for the majority of the first 45 minutes without causing the City defence too many problems
And while Derry did have that gilt-edged chance from McNamee, Declan Devine will have been content to go in scoreless at the break.
Stephen Bradley made a change at the break with Brandon Kavanagh replaced by Sean Kavanagh on the right flank. And Rovers began the second half with purpose with Carr forcing a decent save from Cherrie who tipped his effort over the bar.
Derry failed to clear from the resultant corner and when Joey O'Brien's low cross somehow fell to Greene at the far post, the striker's shot was deflected behind by Cherrie.
On a rare Derry attack Greg Sloggett was allowed time on the ball and tried his luck from distance with his shot narrowly missing the far post with Alan Mannus scrambling to get there.
However, Rovers hit the front on 52 minutes after great work from Greene on the left side. The striker found Clarke on the edge of the box and he took a touch before burying his low shot into the far corner of the net.
Three minutes later Rovers pounced again, this time Byrne had time to pick out his spot from the edge of the Derry penalty area and he struck low to the right of Cherrie's outstretched hand.
It looked ominous for the visitors but they hit back on 58 minutes as skipper, McNamee did brilliantly to pick out the Coll who rose above his man and headed into the corner of the Rovers net.
Cherrie came to his side's rescue with a brilliant block to deny Lee Grace's close range downward header before Carr flashed a shot across the face of goal and wide as Rovers looked desperately for a third goal on the hour mark.
Coll was presented with an opportunity for a second following a quick counter attack as substitute, Eoghan Stokes played him into space but he drilled his shot into the side netting.
Derry were fortunate not to be punished when Stokes lost possession to Kavanagh inside his own half but when the Rovers sub received a return pass from Byrne his shot was parried away by Cherrie on 71 minutes.
The Candy Stripes netted the equaliser with six minutes remaining as McDonagh's cross was diverted towards goal by Sloggett and while Mannus stopped it on the line, Ogedi-Uzokwe was on hand to bundle it into the net.
Rovers sub, Ethan Boyle weaved his way into the Derry box in search of the winner and went to ground but the referee, Derek Tomney correctly awarded a free-kick to the visitors and booked the ex-Finn Harps man as City deservedly took a share of the spoils back to Foyleside.
Shamrock Rovers: A. Mannus; J. O'Brien, R. Lopes, L. Grace, T. Clarke; D. Carr, J. Byrne (E. Boyle 79), G. Bolger, R. Finn, B. Kavanagh (S. Kavanagh h-t); A. Greene (J. Coustrain 67); Subs Not Used - L. Pohls, J. Furlong, T. Oluwa, R. Vojic.
Derry City: P. Cherrie: J. McDonagh, J. Kerr (A. Gilchrist 79), E. Toal, C. Coll; G. Bruna, C. Harkin (A. Delap 77). G. Sloggett, J. Ogedi-Uzokwe; B. McNamee; D. Parkhouse (E. Stokes 64); Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, R. McKinley, E. Tweed. S. McNamee.
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin)