Derry City emerged victorious from a bad-tempered but entertaining derby game at Finn Park.
Finn Harps 2
Derry City 3
This game in Ballybofey had everything, but whilst City emerged victorious, the evening was overshadowed by a possible leg break for defender Ciaran Coll, the victim of a disgraceful tackle from Colm Deasy who received a straight red card.
Harps were incandescent on 21 minutes when they had the ball in the net, only for it to be ruled out by referee Neil Doyle. Nathan Gartside, in attempting to set Derry on a quick attack after collecting a free kick, only succeeded in kicking the ball into the path of Niall Logue. The ball rebounded off the Harps man and into the path of Nathan Boyle who tapped into an empty net. But much to Harps’ disbelief and Derry relief, the goal was ruled out with Logue cautioned.
Harps’ chances in this game took a severe blow on 36 minutes when Colm Deasy completely lost his discipline, clattering into the back of Ciaran Coll and receiving a straight red card in the process. The Finn Harps fans foolishly applauded the tackle, which proved to be the end of Coll’s involvement who was replaced by Aidy Delap five minutes before the break.
Still, Harps should have gone into the break in the lead, as Nathan Gartside came for a corner and got nowhere near it, and Cowan should have scored, heading over the bar with an empty net to aim at.
The early goal that Derry craved arrived within seven minutes of the restart. A quickly taken free kick on the right caught Harps on the back foot and McDonagh’s ball across the face of goal found Junior who brought it back into the area before laying the ball off for Greg Sloggett who switched it to Delap who slammed it past Gallagher and into the roof of the net from ten yards.
Derry were fortunate to hold onto their lead on 63 minutes when a Harps corner by McAleer found O’Reilly unmarked at the back post. His header was somehow kept out by Gartside at close range but it sparked a goalmouth scramble with Harps players desperately trying to force the ball over the line, before the Derry defence scrambled it clear eventually.
But Harps kept going and they got their equaliser on 74 minutes when Jacob Borg’s cross was flicked on to the back post where former City striker Nathan Boyle took a touch before firing it past an exposed Gartside.
That proved a key moment as Derry finally got back on the front foot and they crept back into the lead on 82 minutes, McDonagh’s cross finding Parkhouse who sent a bullet header past Gallagher from ten yards to put City 2-1 ahead.
Four minutes of added time gave Harps the chance to apply late pressure but it was Derry who pounced, Ciaran Gallagher coming out of his goal and missing his kick and Parkhouse took full advantage, rolling in his second goal of the evening.
There was still time for further drama and Harps were awarded a penalty when Gilchrist fouled Cowan. Substitute Mikey Place rolled the ball past Gartside but it proved to be the las kick of the game as Derry emerged as winners from an incredible derby.
FINN HARPS: Gallagher, Deasy, O’Reilly, Borg, Cowan, McAleer, Boyle (Place 82’), Todd, McNamee, Kavanagh, Logue.
DERRY CITY: Gartside, McDermott (Cole 57’), Toal, Gilchrist, Coll (Delap 40’, Stokes 84’)), Harkin, Sloggett, McDonagh, McNamee, Parkhouse, Ogide-Uzokwe.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle.
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