By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United and Galway United played out a dramatic 2-2 draw in a pulsating encounter on Friday evening at United Park.
Adam Wixted had seemingly secured all three points for Drogheda with his second goal of the evening in the 90th minute but the visitors rescued a point in stoppage time through Jesse Devers.
Drogheda boss Pete Mahon made two changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Sligo Rovers last week with Sean Thornton and Gareth McCaffrey being replaced by Jake Hyland and Marc Griffin.
It was Hyland who had the first opportunity of the contest as Gavin Brennan slotted the midfielder through on goal but his strike from a narrow angle was well saved by Conor Winn.
Stephen Elliott was the next to try his luck on goal but he fired over the bar from close range but Drogheda deservedly took the lead with 10 minutes played.
A quick counter-attack saw Hyland pick out Wixted who carried the ball forward before cutting inside and firing low into the bottom corner for his second goal in three games.
Galway were awarded a free-kick in a promising position moments later though Stephen Folan’s strike was gathered by Stephen McGuinness at the second attempt.
The Tribesmen’s biggest threat came from set-pieces and they came close to levelling matters as a long throw-in found David Cawley 12-yards out with Richie Purdy deflecting his strike wide.
Drogheda seemed pleased to play on the break and they created a fine opening midway through the half as Shane Elworthy’s ball to the back post was volleyed over the bar by Gavin Brennan.
The hosts nearly doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Stephen Elliott’s cross from the right found Griffin but the forward’s snap-shot failed to hit the target.
Another in-swinging corner after the break almost paid dividends for Galway as Lee Grace’s goal bound header was stopped by his team-mate Folan.
Former Drogs midfielder Gavan Holohan was becoming a growing force in the game and he stung the palms of McGuinness before Ronan Murray fired wide of the far post as Galway’s pressure grew.
Drogheda were struggling to get their passing game going but they should’ve doubled their lead on 75 minutes as a three-on-one counter-attack saw Purdy’s close range strike deflected over the bar.
Galway’s pressure eventually reaped reward as they equalised with ten minutes left to play. Substitute Padraic Cunningham turned smartly on the edge or the box and then drilled the ball low and hard beyond McGuinness.
With the game seemingly heading for a draw, Drogheda hit the front in the 90th minute
as Sean Brennan slipped the ball into the path of Wixted who made no mistake into firing high into the roof of the net.
There was to be one final twist though, as straight from kick-off, a long ball into the box was missed by all before substitute Devers diverted the ball into the bottom corner.
Despite a disjointed performance, Drogs manager Pete Mahon will be hooping his side can find the winning touch when they face St Patrick’s Athletic next week.
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Shane Elworthy, Luke Gallagher, Ciaran McGuigan, Conor Kane; Adam Wixted, Jake Hyland, Richie Purdy, Gavin Brennan; Stephen Elliott (Sean Brennan 73), Marc Griffin (Gareth McCaffrey 73).
Subs not used: Stephen Dunne, Kevin Farragher, Jamie Hollywood, Ryan Coulter.
Galway United: Conor Winn; Colm Horgan, Stephen Folan, Lee Grace, Mark Ludden; Gary Shanahan (Conor Melody 69), Gavan Holohan, David Cawley, Kevin Devaney; Ronan Murray (Jesse Devers 88), Vinny Faherty (Padraic Cunningham 69).
Subs not used: Alex Byrne, Paul Sinnott, Aaron Conway, Ciaran Nugent.
DroghedaUnited.ie Man of the Match: Adam Wixted