It was a case of missed opportunities for Drogheda United as they were held 2-2 at home to Bohemians while the sides above them in the league extended the ever widening gap.
Michael Daly headed Drogheda into the lead in the opening minute before Dwayne Wilson slotted past Gabriel Sava with the away side’s first attempt on target. Two minutes later Paul O’Conor restored United’s lead but Bohs levelled shortly after the break through Ryan McEvoy’s tidy finish.
The home side made two changes from the draw against Sligo last Saturday as Alan McNally and Graham Rusk came in for Alan Byrne and Declan O’Brien. As for Bohemians, Aaron Callaghan made a single alteration as Derek Prender replaced Conor O’Brien.
United had the perfect start as a quick corner from David Cassidy gave Gavin Brennan the chance to cross and Michael Daly powered home a header into the roof of the net.
The early goal gave Drogheda the initiative to push on and Daly could have had his second of the game but he headed over the bar from a Gary O’Neill delivery.
Indeed, United should have made their pressure count as excellent control and lay off from O’Neill played in Rusk down the right wing but his cross-shot was of no danger to Damien Delaney in the Bohemians goal.
The Dubliners levelled matters on 35 minutes as a swift turn from Dwayne Wilson on the halfway line saw him evade the attention of Derek Prendergast and he calmly finished past Gabriel Sava at his near post.
United were almost back in front two minutes later as Paul O’Conor sent a 25 yard volley crashing off the cross bar and out of play. The midfielder was not to be denied though as on 40 minutes his initial header was parried by Delaney only for O’Conor to force the ball over the line on the rebound.
Drogheda almost had a two goal advantage going into the interval as on the stroke of halftime O’Neill intercepted a loose pass from Pender and with three players to beat, he attempted an audacious chip that cannoned back off the woodwork.
The Phibsboro club equalised five minutes into the second half as Andy Mulligan used his pace to accelerate past Brian Gannon down the left and he crossed for the onrushing Ryan McEvoy who fired past Sava from the edge of the box.
O’Neill then missed a guilt edged chance to put Drogheda back in front as a pin-point cross from Gavin Brennan was missed by both Delaney and Lopes which left O’Neill with a simple chance but he bundled the ball over the bar from two yards.
An end to end game saw Bohemians create another clear cut chance against a vulnerable Drogheda defence as Wilson picked out the unmarked Mulligan but he lost his footing before being harried off the ball.
Daly almost won the game for the Boynesiders as he capitalised on a quick throw from David Cassidy but his effort again hit the cross bar much to the frustration of the home crowd.
Despite the introduction of Eric Foley, Peter Hynes and Declan O’Brien, Drogheda were severely lacking in ideas and the away side looked the more likely to pick up the three points as the game wore on.
The final whistle drew to an end a disappointing night for United which was compounded by local rivals Dundalk picking up a victory away in Bray, leaving United five points adrift of fourth.On the bright side, United are now unbeaten in ten league games and will take on the side to last defeat them, St Pats, at home on Monday.
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava, Brian Gannon, Alan McNally, Derek Prendergast, Shane Grimes, Graham Rusk (Declan O’Brien 74), Paul O’Conor (Eric Foley 64), David Cassidy, Michael Daly, Gavin Brennan, Gary O’Neill (Peter Hynes 86).
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann, Stephen Quigley, Philip Hand, Cathal Brady.
Booked: David Cassidy, Gavin Brennan, Alan McNally
Bohemians: Dean Delaney, Dave Mulcahy, Roberto Lopes, Luke Byrne, Michael Barker, Ryan McEvoy, Derek Pender, Keith Buckley, Andy Mulligan, Chris Lyons (Kevin Devanney 90), Dwayne Wilson (Kevin O’Leary 86).
Subs not used: Greg Murray, Shane Murray, Ciaran Nangle, Owen Heary, Stephen Traynor.
Booked: Roberto Lopes, Chris Lyons, Derek Pender
Referee: Derek Tomney
DroghedaUnited.ie Man of The Match: Michael Daly