Shamrock Rovers 1
Derry City 1
SHAMROCK ROVERS STRETCHED their record unbeaten league run to 33 games as they battled back from a goal down to earn a draw at home to Derry City.
Will Patching’s penalty early in the second half hinted an upset may be on the cards but the lead lasted just seven minutes as Rory Gaffney levelled up with his fourth of the season.
The sides finished with ten players apiece as Sean Hoare, who conceded the penalty that led to the opener, and Danny Lafferty were dismissed for second bookings.
There didn’t seem to be a huge amount of danger as James Akintunde got the wrong side of Hoare within two minutes of the restart, but he clumsily hauled down the striker.
Patching, who joined the Candystripes on loan from Higgins’ former club Dundalk at the start of the season, coolly slotted the ball low into the right-hand corner from 12 yards.
The goal came somewhat against the run of play following a first half when both sides were hampered by surface water following heavy rain on Saturday in south Dublin.
Rovers had the best of the early chances, with Nathan Gartside drawn into saves from Graham Burke and Sean Gannon, who was introduced from the bench for the injured Dylan Watts.
Burke had netted a goal of the season contender from 55 yards when the side faced at the Ryan McBride Brandywell last month.
He did force Gartside into action with another shot from range, but his two other attempts failed to find the target.
Derry were mostly restricted to shots from range as well, with Patching’s free kick clearing the bar before David Parkhouse went close after a defensive error.
Rovers should have taken the lead on the stroke of half time as a fine passing move saw Gannon released in behind but, again, Gartside was live to it and saved well.
The game turned on its head early in the second half as Hoare needlessly pulled down Akintunde, picking up his first yellow in the process, and Patching took full advantage.
Resilience has been a feature of Rovers’ season, having secured eight points from losing positions already this season, and they made it nine as Gaffney struck back within seven minutes.
Liam Scales’ quick throw took some liberties with the position on the pitch but, despite Derry protests, it was allowed run to Gaffney and he held off Cameron McJannet to level up.
The striker had plenty of work to do to beat Gartside from a tight angle, but he tucked the ball into the far corner for his fourth goal of what has become a fruitful season for the Galway man.
Rovers poured forward in search of a winner and Burke tested Gartside with another well-struck effort, while Hoare failed to find the target with a header.