St Pat's Athletic 1-1 Derry City

Paul Crowley (right) battles with Ruaidhri Higgins
Paul Crowley fights out an aerial duel with Ruaidhri Higgins at Richmond Park

Derry City secured European football for next year by grabbing a fortunate draw against St Patrick's Athletic in Friday's Airtricity League clash.

Kevin Deery had an early Derry chance blocked but St Pat's went to dominate the contest and missed several chances.

Sean O'Connor finally put Pat's ahead on 30 minutes with a superb finish.

But a mistake by Pat's keeper Chris Bennion gifted a 73rd-minute equaliser to Stephen McLaughlin before Pat's Stephen Bradley missed a late penalty.

Derry's failure to win in Dublin ends any slim mathematical chance they had of catching leaders Shamrock Rovers.

But in truth, Derry never really looked like earning the three points at Inchicore and were hugely fortunate to earn the draw.

Deery went close for Derry early on but Pat's quickly took complete control of the contest.

The Dubliners missed a number of chances before O'Connor beautifully lobbed over Gerard Doherty on the half-hour after good work by David McMillan.

After being outplayed in the opening half, Derry scarcely improved after the break and they needed Bennion's huge error to snatch an undeserved equaliser.

After having the ball in his grasp, Bennion dropped the ball on to the turf as he got ready to clear upfield but McLaughlin was able to nip in before kicking the ball into an empty net.

In the final minute of normal time, Derry looked to have gifted the three points to Pat's after Ryan McBride tripped Danny Norton in the area.

However, Bradley's penalty hit the foot of a post before a combination of Barry Molloy and Stewart Greacen managed to clear.

Derry had a further escape in injury-time as Derek Doyle headed against the woodwork.

The Hoops lead Sligo Rovers by a point and victory for Michael O'Neill's side in Monday's game at the Carlisle Grounds will secure the title ahead of the final round of matches next Friday.

Sligo kept the race alive by defeating Bohemians 3-0 in Dublin on Friday evening.

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