An eventful night at Richmond Park ended with the spoils being shared as Daniel Kelly’s 77th-minute effort secured Dundalk a hard-earned point against St Patrick’s Athletic.
Trailing to Andy Boyle’s first-half own goal, the Lilywhites finished the game strongly and shortly after he restored parity, Kelly missed a gilt-edged chance to claim all three points when he guided a header wide of Joseph Anang’s upright.
The result consolidates Dundalk’s position in second place, and keeps Stephen O’Donnell’s side six points ahead of fourth-placed Pat’s, with a game in hand.
O’Donnell made four changes to the side that started the Louth Derby defeat to Drogheda United a week earlier with Peter Cherrie, Sam Bone, Patrick Hoban and Keith Ward given the nod.
It was Cherrie’s first competitive start of 2022 but the Scot could do nothing to prevent Pat’s from breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute when Eoin Doyle’s shot was diverted into his own net by the unfortunate Andy Boyle.
Dundalk had chances and prior to the opener, Kelly’s ball across the face of the goal just evaded a number of incoming red shirts.
Ward was left frustrated when he failed to hit the target from a good central area while Robbie Benson saw Anang touch one over the top.
Half-time: St Patrick’s Athletic 1-0 Dundalk FC
Things were a lot more frenetic in the second half and Pat’s had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Rob Hennessy when substitute Serge Atakayi went down at pace in the box.
Cherrie, who safely gathered a Chris Forrester drive, then made a vitally important stop to block Tunde Owolabi from extending Tim Clancy’s men’s lead and Mark Doyle then smacked a thumping header against the crossbar.
As the minutes ticked away, Hennessy directed his attention towards the Dundalk bench and after O’Donnell was shown a yellow card for encroachment, the match official brandished a second one in his direction minutes later. O’Donnell’s crime? Leaving his technical area to try and retrieve a ball that went into touch.
Assistant Padge Cregg followed but, at that stage, Dundalk looked the most likely to win it. Kelly’s shot took a wicked deflection off Joe Redmond to spin up and over Anang for the equaliser but the winger was left kicking himself when he headed a pinpoint Darragh Leahy cross wide in the latter stages.
Full-time: St Patrick’s Athletic 1-1 Dundalk FC
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Joseph Anang, Harry Brockbank, Joe Redmond, Tom Grivosti, Anto Breslin; Adam O’Reilly, Chris Forrester (Jamie Lennon 86); Billy King (Tunde Owolabi 69), Ben McCormack (Serge Atakayi 60), Mark Doyle; Eoin Doyle. Subs not used: David Odumosu (GK), Jason McClelland, Thijs Timmermans, Paddy Barrett, Ross Fay, Anto Dodd.
DUNDALK FC: Peter Cherrie, Lewis Macari (Steven Bradley 59), Mark Connolly, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy (Mark Hanratty 87); Sam Bone (Paul Doyle 65), Greg Sloggett; Robbie Benson (Joe Adams 87), Keith Ward (John Martin 65), Daniel Kelly; Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Mark Byrne (GK), John Mountney, Ryan O’Kane, David McMillan.
REFEREE: Rob Hennessy.