A Declan O’Brien penalty two minutes from time earned a point for Drogheda United as they were frustrated at home by Cork City in a 1-1 draw.
A spectacular opener on 31 minutes from Shane Duggan appeared to have been sufficient for the Leesiders to bring three points back south until John Dunleavy handled and O’Brien tucked away the pressure penalty.
Mick Cooke made three changes from the side that drew with Dundalk on Thursday as Derek Prendergast, Paul O’Conor and Gary O’Neill replaced Alan Byrne, Gavin Brennan and O’Brien.
City made one enforced change from their game against Shamrock Rovers as the suspended Darren Dennehy made way for Keith Spillane.
The first chance of note almost resulted in a goal as tricky wing play from Ryan Brennan saw him work space to cross for Graham Rusk whose mishit header crashed against the bar and out of play.
A very narrow Drogheda side meant that the majority of their play was coming through the middle and clever interplay from Gary O’Neill and David Cassidy saw the latter’s deflected ball fall invitingly to O’Conor who volleyed wide.
Indeed, Drogheda really should have taken the lead as an Eric Foley corner was met by Prendergast but he headed the wrong side of the post.
The deadlock was broken on the half-hour mark as a counter attack for Cork presented the ball to Shane Duggan whose initial attempt was blocked by Grimes but he made no mistake as his second effort flew in from 25 yards, Cork’s first shot on goal.
United almost equalised on the stroke of half time as a Ryan Brennan cross was partly cleared by Spillane and O’Connor’s strike rolled agonisingly wide.
Gavin Brennan was introduced at the interval to add much needed width to the Drogheda attack but the Cork rearguard stood strong.
A penalty appeal for the home side was waived away by referee Neil Doyle as it appeared that Dunleavy handled a goal bound Gavin Brennan shot much to the frustration of the crowd.
Cork came close to finishing off the game as Gearoid Morrissey ran clean through the Drogheda defence but his shot from the edge of the box didn’t trouble Gabriel Sava.
Despite the introduction of Peter Hynes and O’Brien, United struggled for ideas and were fortunate to be awarded a penalty on 88 minutes as a John Dunleavy handball saw Declan O’Brien score his third penalty of the season as the Drogs escaped with a point.
Drogheda United Team: Gabriel Sava; Stephen Quigley, Brian Gannon, Derek Prendergast, Shane Grimes; David Cassidy, Paul O’Conor, Eric Foley (Peter Hynes 69), Ryan Brennan; Graham Rusk (Gavin Brennan 46), Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 69)
Substitutes not used: Philip Hand, Alan McNally, Dean Gaynor, Jason Marks.
Cork City Team: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Kevin Murray (Garry Buckley 25), Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Gearoid Morrissey, Colin Healy, Shane Duggan, Adam Rundle (Ian Turner 58); Denis Behan, Danny Furlong (Daryl Kavanagh 90)
Substitutes not used: Kevin Burns, Danny Morrissey, Daryl Horgan.
Drogheda: Eric Foley, Gavin Brennan
Cork: Denis Behan, Ian Turner
Referee: Neil Doyle
DroghedaUnited.ie Man of the Match: Ryan Brennan