Derry City 2 Dundalk 2
DERRY CITY showed remarkable grit to claw their way back in dramatic style for a deserved share of the spoils against champions, Dundalk.
June Player of the Month nominee, Junior Ogedi Uzokwe, fresh from his hat-trick against Cork City last week, once again proved the hero as he headed home Jamie McDonagh's corner in the 94th minute.
It was the second time this season Derry City fought back against the champions after the 2-2 draw at Oriel Park in May, as they stretched their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions.
The Candy Stripes haven't beaten Dundalk on Foyleside since 2012 but striker, David Parkhouse had put them in the driving seat with a smart finish four minutes before the interval.
The Lilywhites came out fighting in the second half and Georgie Kelly fired them level on 58 minutes.
Star striker, Pat Hoban then came off the bench to inspire an impressive second half comeback. The Galway man headed in superbly from Michael Duffy's corner kick on 90 minutes and it looked to be the winner.
However, Derry never gave up the fight and from Jamie McDonagh's corner kick on 94th minute, Junior stooped to head home his eighth goal of the season for a draw which will have felt like a win for Declan Devine's troops.
Devine had made just the one change from the team which held Bohemians to a stalemate at Dalymount on Monday night as they faced into a third match in the space of seven days.
Darren McCauley was handed his second debut for the club as he replaced Argentine, Gerardo Bruna, who dropped to the bench.
City's other new signings, ex-UCD striker, Conor Davis and former Brandywell favourite, Mark McChrystal were named on the substitute's bench.
With one eye on the European qualifier against Riga, Vinny Perth made four changes from the team which romped to a 3-0 home win over Waterford four days previously.
Hoban was the shock omission from the starting line-up as he was replaced by ex-Derry City man Georgie Kelly.
Jamie McGrath and Daniel Kelly also dropped to the bench while new signing, Andy Boyle came in for the injured Sean Hoare for his 170th league start for the club.
Robbie Benson returned for the first time since the opening night and John Mountney was also handed a start to bolster the Lilywhites' midfield.
Dundalk threatened first from a fourth minute Duffy corner and Boyle rose beyond Gilchrist but his downward header was gathered comfortably by Peter Cherrie.
Patrick McEleney then came so close with a powerful 25 yards drive which dipped narrowly over the crossbar.
Derry were struggling to get to grips with the game but they almost carved out a chance when Parkhouse sent a searching cross from the left but Junior was unable to get that vital touch on 17 minutes.
McCauley did well to make a yard of space before drilling the ball towards the penalty spot but it evaded Parkhouse and Dean Jarvis did enough to thwart Junior's effort at the back post.
Rogers came to clear McDonagh's searching cross at the near post and when Sloggett picked up the loose ball, the Dundalk keeper did superbly to save at his feet.
Duffy's curling free-kick from the edge of the Derry penalty area sailed harmlessly wide as the interval approached with Dundalk becoming increasingly frustrated.
Derry capitalised on a defensive blunder as Shields attempted to roll the ball back to his keeper but Parkhouse intercepted and slammed the ball past Rogers and into the net to break the deadlock just five minutes before the break.
The champions began the second half with purpose and Duffy's looping header found the back of the Derry net on 51 minutes but it was ruled out for offside.
Sloggett misplaced his pass in the middle of the park and Shields drove into the penalty area before cutting it back to Kelly who fired in from eight yards for the equaliser on 58 minutes.
Dundalk made a double substitution with Hoban and McGrath entering the fray on 69 minutes and the former came close with a header at the far post just minutes later.
Ten minutes later it was McGrath who was causing Derry problems as he got onto the end of Sean Gannon's cross but Cherrie tipped his header over the bar acrobatically.
The visitors broke the hearts of the home support on 90 minutes as Hoban flung himself at Duffy's corner kick and headed past Cherrie for what looked like the winner.
However, there was to be further drama as McDonagh's corner was headed home through a crowded penalty area by Junior, who rose above his marker on the 94th minute to rescue a precious point.
After a 900 miles round trip which involved visits to Cork and Dublin during the week, it was a remarkable result for Europa League chasing City!
Derry City - P. Cherrie; J. McDonagh, E. Toal, A. Gilchrist, C. Coll; J. Ogedi Uzokwe, G. Sloggett, C.Harkin, D. McCauley (D. Cole 65), B. McNamee (G. Bruna 83), D. Parkhouse (C. Davis 73); Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, A. Delap, M. McChrystal, E. Stokes.
Dundalk - G. Rogers; S. Gannon, D. Cleary, A. Boyle, D. Jarvis; J. Mountney (D. Kelly 77), R. Benson (J. McGrath 69), C. Shields, M. Duffy, P. McEleney; G. Kelly (P. Hoban 69); Subs Not Used: A. McCarey, B. Gartland, D. Massey, C. Dummigan.
REFEREE: PAUL McLAUGHLIN (Monaghan)