Derry salvage a point from absorbing derby tussle with Finn Harps

Finn Harps Eric McWoods celebrates after scoring against Derry City at the Brandywell on Friday night Picture: Margaret McLaughlin 
Seamus Crudden

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Derry City 2 Finn Harps 2

Derry City snatched a point in the northwest derby thanks to Eoin Toal's 94th minute header, which denied Finn Harps.

Toal's late equaliser stopped the Candystripes poor recent run, however the point only covered up some of the cracks and the break certainly comes a good time for the Brandywell men. 

Not for the first time in a recent weeks, Derry looked lacklustre and were second best for long periods.

Ruaidhri Higgins' side never really got going and in the end Harps ran out deserved winners.

The Brandywell men three changes to the side which lost at Sligo Rovers on Monday night with Jack Malone, Brandon Kavanagh and Matty Smith all starting.

As for the visitors they too made three changes with Jose Carrillo, Bastien Hery and Filip Mihaljevic all coming into the startling 11.

Harps took an early eighth minute lead in lovely fashion as Ryan Rainey's clever pass inside the box found Filip Mihaljevic, who broke the offside trap and calmly slotted home, giving Brian Maher no chance.

Mihaljevic caused City more problems on 14 minutes and after Will Patching had brought him down on the edge of the City box, Regan Donelon's resulting free-kick crashed against the crossbar.

Derry drew level on 21 minutes thanks to a stunning free-kick from Patching, the talented midfielder's 35 yard effort close to the left hand touchline caught out Harps keeper Mark McGinley, who was expecting a delivery into the box.

Harps regained the lead on 61 minutes as former City midfielder Basten Hery played in Eric McWoods, who showed super skill to cut inside past Eoin Toal, before side footing home.

City made a double change just after the goal as they looked to try and get into the game as James Akintude and Evan McLaughlin replaced Joe Thomson and Brandon Kavanagh.

It was the Donegal men who were inches away from scoring a third as Donelon's right-wing free-kick was whipped into the six yard box, but Conor Tourish's glancing header was easily saved by Maher.

McGinley had to make a top drawer save on 84 minutes, as the keeper somehow kept out Ronan Boyce's close range snap-shot and the Harps net-minder was a relieved man moments later as he watched Patching's stunning long range volley, whistle just wide.

City substitute Danny Lafferty went close in the closing minutes but his 20 yard strike failed to trouble McGinley.

Derry levelled things on 94 minutes as Patching's deep centre from the left found Toal at the back post and he powerfully headed home past McGinley.

Derry City: Maher, Boyce, McEleney, Toal, McJannett; Malone (Lafferty 71), Thomson (McLaughlin 62), Patching; Smith, McGonigle, Kavanagh (Akintunde 62).

Finn Harps: McGinley, Tourish, Donelan (Alkan 75), Slevin, Connolly, McWoods (Rudden 77), Carrillo, Hery (Divers 96), Rainey, Boyle, Mihaljevic.

Referee: Adriano Reale (Dublin).

SSE Airtricity Premier Division results
Bohemians 1 Drogheda Utd 1
Derry City 2 Finn Harps 2
Dundalk 1 St Patricks Athletic 0
Shamrock Rovers 2 Shelbourne 0
UCD 1 Sligo Rovers 1

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