Super sub Liddle strikes late to save point for Derry

Derry City 1

Finn Harps 1

SIMON COLLINS reports from The Brandywell.

ADAM LIDDLE CAME off the bench to save Derry City’s blushes at the Brandywell as he rescued a point with a 95th-minute strike in the North West derby against Finn Harps.

Harps looked on course to record a first ever league win at the venue after Ryan Connolly had capitalised on a first-half defensive error.

The former Galway United skipper pounced on a misplaced backpass from ex-Finn Harps captain, Ciaran Coll and with Peter Cherrie badly out of position the Harps midfielder curled into the net to give Harps a 33rd minute lead.

Having been rolled over comfortably, losing 4-0 on both league visits to the Brandywell last season, Harps were so close to securing a hugely impressive win.

However, Liddle was introduced for his home debut and turned in Walter Figueira’s cross past goalkeeper, Mark McGinley with the last action of the match as Derry managed to get their first point on the board.

Devine had named the same starting XI which lost narrowly to champions Dundalk at Oriel Park on the opening night while Harps made three changes from their home win over Sligo Rovers.

Ex-City skipper, McNamee was the most notable of those, making his full debut against his former side while his brother Tony and debutante Leo Donnellan were also named in the starting line-up.

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The visitors made an encouraging start, frustrating their hosts during the opening 10 minutes and McNamee predictably was greeted with a chorus of boos from the home support.

Nilsen got in behind the Harps defence for the first time when he chased Ally Gilchrist’s ball over the top and while the ball took him away from goal he managed the game’s first shot on target which was saved comfortably by McGinley.

Ciaron Harkin then tried an audacious strike from 40 yards which sailed narrowly over with McGinley off his line.

Figueira was gifted a decent chance on 21 minutes and really should’ve hit the target.

Jamie McDonagh crossed from wide on the right and when Harps’ defender, Kosovar Sadiki rose above Nilsen, his clearance fell kindly to the City winger who blasted high over the bar.

Derry began to break the Harps resistance on the half hour mark and worked the ball into Harkin in space on the edge of the box but the midfielder couldn’t trouble the keeper with his right footed effort.

Harps broke the deadlock on 33 minutes after a shocking defensive error as Derry attempted to play out from the back after a throw-in deep inside their own half. Coll’s poorly misjudged back-pass was intercepted and with Cherrie out of position, Connolly curled the ball into the unguarded net.

Cherrie produced a superb save to turn behind Karl O’Sullivan’s excellent curling effort at the start of the second half as Derry struggled against a strong wind.

Clifford latched onto Harkin’s cut back on the edge of the box just short of the hour mark and his first time strike crashed off the crossbar. 

The rebound fell to McDonagh who went down under pressure from Mark Russell inside the penalty area but the referee waved play on.

McDonagh’s cross was deflected into the path of substitute, Stephen Mallon on 69 minutes but the Sheffield United loanee’s strike was blocked at full stretch by McEleney.

Derry assistant boss, Kevin Deery and his opposite number, Paul Hegarty both went into the referee’s book as tempers began to flare on the sidelines.