by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United maintained their unbeaten start to the season as they played out a 1-1 draw against Derry City at United Park.
Michael Daly opened the scoring for the home side shortly after the interval but sustained press from the Candystripes was finally rewarded as Cliff Byrne fired Derry level with 15 minutes left to play.
Record goal scorer Declan O’Brien was removed from the starting eleven before kick-off as he picked up an injury during the warm up and his place was taken by Gavan Holohan while Ciaran McGuigan was chosen ahead of Paul Andrews at centre back.
There was also a surprise in the City line-up as Ger Doherty was left out of the squad as former Finn Harps goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher started.
Drogheda came close to opening the scoring early on as a 35-yard free kick from Eric Foley went narrowly wide.
Despite that effort, the visitors largely dominated the first half as Michael Duffy drifted past three Drogheda defenders on 18 minutes only for David Ryan to deflect his goal bound effort onto the crossbar.
Derry squandered another chance to take the lead a couple of moments later as a cross from the industrious Mark Stewart found the head of Rory Patterson but the striker wasn’t able to hit the target.
The final goalmouth action of the first half fell to City again as a corner kick from the right was completely missed by Ryan but his blushes were saved by a covering Drogheda defender.
Just as they did against Dundalk, the Drogs started the second half in devastating fashion. Within the first minute the home side earned a corner kick, which was knocked back into the path of Michael Daly and the defender hooked the ball past Ciaran Gallagher to give United a surprise lead.
The visitors should have leveled ten minutes later as a lightning quick counter attack resulted in Duffy crossing for Stewart at the back post but the winger’s effort was only parried by Ryan with goal scorer Daly again clearing off the line.
It seemed like Derry would regret their numerous missed chances as Stewart’s pinpoint delivery from the right picked out the unmarked Patterson from 8 yards but last season’s top goal scorer failed to test Ryan.
The Candystripes deservedly drew level on 75 minutes. A Duffy corner caused havoc in the Drogheda box as Ryan fumbled the ball and Derry captain Byrne fired low and hard into the net.
United manager Robbie Horgan may feel fortunate that his side hung on for a point as they slip to third in the league. Drogheda will look to get back to winning ways against Limerick at Thomond Park next Friday.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will look to maintain their excellent start to the season as they entertain Derry City Friday night at United Park, kick-off 7.45pm.
United came from two goals down to rescue a point against Bohemians courtesy of a Gary O’Neill double, leaving the Drogs in top spot in the Airtricity League table.
Drogheda manager Robbie Horgan will be without the suspended pair of Gavin Brennan and Philly Hughes while Michéal Sclingermann has been ruled out due to injury. Paul Crowley has been rated as doubtful as a result of a long-standing knee injury.
The two sides met six times last season as Drogheda eliminated the Candystripes from both the EA Sports Cup and Setanta Cup competitions while Derry were victorious by a score line of 3-2 when the teams played in the league at United Park.
The Candystripes are yet to record their first win under new manager Roddy Collins and currently sit in 9th place in the league.
A promising 1-1 draw at shamrock Rovers was followed up by a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Cork City on Sunday.
Both Ger Doherty and Barry McNamee are doubts for the visitors and will require fitness tests before kick-off.
Speaking ahead of the game, Drogheda manager Robbie Horgan emphasised the importance of maintaining their undefeated start to the season.
“The result in Dalymount was very pleasing considering how we started the game. We haven’t started games particularly well this season and we were fortunate that Bohemians only scored twice in the opening period. Gary O’Neill scored a vital goal just before the break and there were a few choice words at halftime but we finished the game the stronger side. To come from 2-0 down away to Bohs and leave with a result shows great character and commitment from the players.
“It is important for confidence that we keep picking up results. A lot of people will be surprised with our position in the table at the moment. We are top, albeit courtesy of goal difference, but we want to stay there for as long as possible.
“Luckily enough Derry have been on TV for the last two weeks so I’ve had an opportunity to analyse their games, They were two different matches in the fact that Roddy set out his side to frustrate Shamrock Rovers while they were more open against Cork on Sunday. It is hard to know how they will approach the game against us but either way I’m sure Roddy will be looking for his side to pick up the win.
“It’s been a couple of years since United Park was a fortress and that’s the aim for us this season. We picked up a lot of draws here last year so it’s important to win your home games and after beating Dundalk we hope to follow it up against Derry. With that being said, you have to earn the right to play and if we start strong on Friday, I’m confident we can pick up a positive result.”
Daire Doyle (Stephen Maher 62’)
Carl Walshe (Austin McCann 76’)
Roddy Collins Jnr
Mick Daly 46’
Cliff Byrne 75’
Eric Foley (yellow) 31’
Cliff Byrne (yellow) 45’
Rory Patterson (yellow) 61’
Aaron Brady (yellow) 63’
Danny Ventre (yellow) 70’