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Derry City failed to go to the top of the Premier Division table after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Saint Patricks Athletic at Inchicore on Friday night. Michael Rafter cancelled out Conan Byrne's earlier goal to insure a share of the points in a game which Pats should have won.
The home team started the better of the two and they had the majority of the early possession. In the fourth minute they had the game's first chance. Killian Brennan swung in a corner from the left and Chris Forrester met it but diverted his effort wide.
Pats went close again in the 11th minute. Ger O'Brien cut in from the right hand side and took a shot with his left foot which went just over the bar. Just moments later Greg Bolger hit a fine shot from outside the area which Gerard Doherty did well to push around the post.
Liam Buckley's side deservedly took the lead in the 21st minute. Derry City full back Simon Madden missed the ball and Chris Forrester gained possession. Forrester hit a scuffed shot and the ball then reached John Russell. Russell failed to control it properly but the ball broke to Conan Byrne who placed it into the corner of the net for his third goal in three successive league games.
Derry slightly improved as the half went on but their best moments came from a couple of crosses into the box which Saint Pats’ goalkeeper Dave Ryan struggled to deal with. That was until the 37th minute when the visitors got a rather fortunate equalizer.
Conor Kenna only half cleared the ball and it eventually reached Barry McNamee. McNamee played the ball into the Pats area. Michael Rafter took a shot which was blocked by Kenna but the ball rebounded to Rafter who turned sharply and beat Ryan to level the scores.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half were fairly even. Derry threatened with a couple of dangerous balls into the Pats area while John Russell had a shot from 20 yards out for the home team which didn't threaten.
Chris Forrester nearly scored a stunning goal for the Saints in the 72nd minute. Ian Bermingham played the abll to him from the left and Forrester turned and shot from about 30 yards out, but the ball just shaved the post.
Forrester's influence grew as the game went on and he was involved again in the 80th minute. He linked up with Killian Brennan before Brennan found Ian Bermingham. Bermingham tried his luck from a narrow angle but Gerard Doherty got down quickly to make the save.
Soon afterwards Derry came close themselves. Madden put in a fine cross from the right and Ruaidhri Higgins, who had a quiet game, met it with his head but the ball went across the goal and wide. Just a minute later the Saints had another opportunity. Ryan McBride misjudged the ball and substitute Christy Fagan was in on goal but Doherty was out like lightning to block Fagan's shot.
Pats should have won it injury time. John Russell crossed from the left. Christy Fagan headed goalwards from two yards out but somehow Doherty was there again to save from point blank range. The rebound broke to Jordan Keegan who fired wide.
The game finished in a 1-1 draw. It was Saint Patricks Athletic's first draw of the season but they will feel disappointed not to have gained their seventh league victory.
Saint Patricks Athletic: Dave Ryan; Ger O'Brien, Connor Kenna (c), Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne (Jordan Keegan 83), Killian Brennan, Greg Bolger, Christopher Forrester; John Russell; Anthony Flood (Christy Fagan 61).
Subs not used: Brendan Clarke, Aidan Price, Conor Murphy, Sean Gannon, Shane McFaul.
Booked: Bolger (80).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Thomas Crawley (Dermot Caffrey 54); Ruaidhri Higgins, Barry Molloy (c), Barry McNamee; Patrick McEleney; Rory Patterson, Michael Rafter (Sean Houston 74).
Subs not used: James Gallagher, Mark Griffin, Michael Duffy, Ryan Curran, Tony McNamee.
Booked: Molloy (30), Patterson (45), B McNamee (67), Doherty (90).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Gerard Doherty (Derry City).