Ruaidhri Higgins encouraged by Derry City display after entertaining clash against the Saints
The Candy Stripes looked set to register their first win on Foyleside since the 2-0 victory over Shelbourne on October 23rd last year until Billy King rose to power home an equalising header with six minutes to go.
It was a cruel blow for City who remain the only team in the top flight yet to secure a home win this season, however they can take the positives from this performance as they extended their unbeaten run to four games.
Joe Thomson, who scored in that 2-0 win over Shels when Derry last won on home soil, had fired Derry into the lead on 68 minutes with a terrific volley from the edge of the penalty area.
Ronan Boyce had earlier cancelled out Lee Desmond’s header when he turned the ball home from close range for his third goal of the season.
However, as St Pat’s pressed late on, substitute Ben McCormack crossed towards the back post and King found the net to earn the Dubliners a share of the spoils which kept Stephen O’Donnell’s side in third spot.
James Akintunde had a great chance to win it late on when he found himself one-on-one but screwed his effort across goal and wide but Higgins was delighted with the character shown by his team who are growing in confidence as the season progresses.
"It was a proper game of football in many ways," said Higgins. "The pitch wasn't conducive to possession based football but I think a draw was a fair result. It was gutting (King's equaliser) but we played a smashing team who gave their manager everything today so a point was probably fair.
“It was good game both teams went at it,” continued the Derry boss. “The lack of water on pitch meant it was scrappy at times but both teams had a go at each other. To be honest it was heart in my mouth stuff at times on the bench but it was good to watch at times too with two committed teams."
And Higgins felt his side could've walked away with three points intact when Akintunde flashed his effort across the face of goal late on with Thomson lurking in the penalty area.
"James (Akintunde) got himself isolated with Sam Bone and squared him up at the end and when James squares someone up in that position he’s a real, real threat and a handful.
“On another day someone comes in at the back post and you come away with three points but I’m very pleased with the commitment and effort of the players,” added the Limavady man.
It’s now seven games without a win at Brandywell as Derry remain in eighth spot but Higgins isn’t overly concerned about that statistic given the upturn in performances since he’s taken charge, particularly against the top teams in the league.
“That home win will come,” he said confidently. “Let’s not forget that St Pats are well ahead of us in the league. St Pats and Shamrock Rovers, for me, are the two best teams in the league and we haven’t lost against either of them.
"I’m not jumping up and down about that. I want to end up beating these teams but I think in the position that we’re in we have to take the positives from these type of results. The commitment of the players here is phenomenal and they keep going right to the end and they could’ve nicked it.
“They’ve gone in front, then we’ve gone in front and we kept going to try and get the winner which is admirable. It gives us real encouragement and belief within the squad and hopefully we can carry that into the upcoming games. We have to take confidence from the last three performances and go to Drogheda and try and get three points against a very good side."
Meanwhile goalscorer, Thomson was delighted to get off the mark with his first goal of the season but he admitted it felt like a defeat given the manner of the late equaliser.
“It’s a good point but whenever you’re winning sometimes it feels like a defeat sometimes when you concede late on,” he said. “That shows you how far we’ve come and we’re definitely moving in the right direction.”