A game of contrasting halves ended in frustration for Dundalk as Ali Coote’s late free-kick secured Bohemians a share of the spoils at Oriel Park.
Two goals up at the interval, Stephen O’Donnell’s men looked on course to move level on points with the Gypsies in third place in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division table but they were pegged back in the final 15 minutes as goals from Krystian Nowak and Coote salvaged Bohs a point.
Dundalk got off to a perfect start, hitting the front after just two minutes and 53 seconds. Robbie McCourt’s corner from the right evaded the reach of James Talbot and Patrick Hoban guided his header into the far corner to score his 169th goal for the club and edge him closer to Joey Donnell’s record of 172.
Bohs offered very little in the opening half with Jordan Flores seeing a free-kick come back off the wall from a central position and the hosts took firm control of the game with half an hour on the clock when Connor Malley’s brilliant volley cannoned back off the crossbar, hit Talbot on the back and crossed the line!
The Lilywhites continued to push forward and they had a big penalty claim waved away by referee Neil Doyle in the 42nd minute after Johannes Yli-Kokko went down under pressure from James McManus.
Bohs needed the break to arrive and they had Keith Buckley to thank for keeping them in it at the changeover, the Gypsies skipper hacking another Hoban header off the line just seconds before a dominant half for the home side came to an end.
HT: Dundalk FC 2-0 Bohemians
Declan Devine made two changes at the break in a bid to inject some life into his side and Adam McDonnell shot into Nathan Shepperd’s arms just seconds after the restart.
Bohs went increasingly direct and Dundalk had a let-off in the 70th minute when Kris Twardek found himself in space at the far post to meet Coote’s cross but the winger’s effort was tame and posed no trouble to Shepperd.
The travelling supporters were given hope when the Phibsborough outfit pulled one back with 14 minutes to play when Krystian Nowak met a Jordan Flores corner in a packed six-yard box to set the nerves jangling around Oriel Park.
Dundalk needed a third goal to settle it and they almost got it when some brilliant play by substitute Keith Ward paved the way for Robbie McCourt to break into the box but the former Bohs defender couldn’t keep his effort on target.
With Jonathan Afolabi causing problems, the visitors sensed an equaliser and they got it with three minutes to play when Coote’s inswinging free from the left beat everyone, including Shepperd, to secure Bohemians a point that few would have envisaged at half-time.
FT: Dundalk FC 2-2 Bohemians
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies, Hayden Muller, Wasiri Williams (Cameron Elliott 90), Robbie McCourt, Johannes Yli-Kokko (Daniel Kelly 67), Alfie Lewis (Paul Doyle 74), John Martin (Keith Ward 74), Connor Malley, Ryan O’Kane, Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Eoin Kenny, Jake Hough, Craig Moore, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
BOHEMIANS: James Talbot, Keith Buckley, Kacper Radkowski, Krystian Nowak, Jordan Flores, Adam McDonnell (Paddy Kirk 90), James McManus (Jay Benn HT), Ali Coote, James Clarke (Declan McDaid HT), Kris Twardek, Dean Williams (Jonathan Afolabi 76). Subs not used: Luke Dennison (GK), Dylan Connolly, John O’Sullivan, Andrew Baker, Chris Lotefa.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle.