Dundalk made the trip home from Derry with a hard-earned point on Friday night after a solid defensive display kept the Candsytripes at bay at the Ryan McBride Brandywell.
On a bitterly cold night in the north-west, Stephen O’Donnell’s side had to adjust to the blow of losing Daniel Kelly to an injury midway through the first half but they fashioned a clear sighting just prior to that.
Johannes Yli-Kokko, who along with Kelly, Hayden Muller and Patrick Hoban, was restored to the starting XI, fired over from a central area in the 21st minute after latching onto Ciaran Coll’s poor clearance.
Ruaidhri Higgins’ men went into the game looking to maintain their place at the summit and they squandered a good opening of their own before the break when Will Patching set Jamie McGonigle up but the striker’s left-footed strike was saved by Nathan Shepperd.
HT: Derry City 0-0 Dundalk FC
The Foylesiders, who also lost former Dundalk centre-back Mark Connolly to a suspected hamstring injury in the first half, held the upper hand after the restart and Patching almost caught Shepperd out with a clever free kick that hit the roof of the net.
Greg Sloggett, who again produced a tireless display in the centre of the park, registered Dundalk’s only shot on target when he tested Brian Maher in the 68th minute.
Roared on by the home crowd, the natives continued to press but Dundalk, with Muller and Andy Boyle, who made a landmark 300th appearance for the club, proving to be rock solid at the heart of the back four, protected their goal at all costs with Shepperd only having to make one save of real note before the death, throwing himself to his left to deny Ben Doherty’s late strike.
The result brought the curtain down on a successful seven-day period for the Lilywhites which saw them take seven points from three games, a return that leaves them in third place after five games.
It also extended Dundalk’s brilliant run at the Brandywell. Since 2012, we have only tasted one loss in 19 in the Maiden City. Next up is the first League of Ireland Louth Derby of the 2023 campaign at Weaver’s Park on Thursday, March 16th.
FT: Derry City 0-0 Dundalk FC
DERRY CITY: Brian Maher, Ciaran Coll, Mark Connolly (Ronan Boyce 17), Shane McEleney, Ben Doherty; Patrick McEleney, Sadou Diallo, Will Patching, Jordan McEneff (Ollie O’Neill 54); Ryan Graydon, Jamie McGonigle (Cian Kavanagh 75). Subs not used: Brandon Kavanagh, Matty Ward, Evan McLaughlin, Tiernan McGinty, Liam Mullan, Tadgh Ryan (GK).
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Archie Davies, Hayden Muller, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy, Greg Sloggett, Connor Malley (John Martin 59), Johannes Yli-Kokko (Ryan O’Kane 71), Rayhaan Tulloch (Robbie Benson 71), Daniel Kelly (Alfie Lewis 26), Patrick Hoban. (Cameron Elliott 71). Subs not used: Keith Ward, Robbie McCourt, Wasiri Williams, Mark Byrne (GK).
REFEREE: Rob Hennessy (Dublin).