Drogheda United’s long losing run at United Park, which stretched back to last summer, was ended with a battling draw with St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday night, although the home side will rue the 70th minute sending-off of goalscorer Alan Reilly.
Reilly cancelled out the Saints’ first half opener from Robbie Doyle, but was handed his marching orders by referee David McKeon after picking up a second yellow for fouling Pats midfielder Keith Fahey.
Drogheda, hoping to build on last week’s win against UCD at Belfield Park, had started well, but the visitors carved out the better early chances.
Fahey forced a save from Dan Connor after 20 minutes, the Saints man’s curling free kick tipped away by the Drogs keeper.
Within four minutes, the Dubliners were ahead: a Fahey corner was only half-cleared by the home side, and Robbie Doyle stabbed a shot in off the Drogheda post to the delight of the travelling support.
Moments later, Keith Dunne had a penalty appeal turned down by referee McKeon as Saints, with just one point from their first two games, tried to turn the screw.
Before half-time, McKeon was the villain of the home fans, the whistler – after consultation with his assistant – ruling out a David Freeman “goal” for offside after the ball had ricocheted into the path of the Drogs striker.
The equalizer did come 14 minutes after the break, former Bohemians and Waterford United midfielder Reilly firing left-footed past Barry Ryan after Pats defender Darragh Maguire could only divert an attempted through ball into his path.
But Reilly’s stock dipped 10 minutes later when he was red-carded by McKeon for a blatant trip on the impressive Fahey in midfield.
Drogheda held on for the point through the remaining 20 minutes, ending a run of seven straight league defeats at home, but manager Paul Doolin will believe his side could have taken all three but for Reilly’s untimely red card.