Skipper Cliff Byrne struck a deserved second-half equaliser for Derry City as the Candystripes showed improved form to draw 1-1 with Drogheda United at United Park in their SSE Airtricity Premier Division clash.

The first 45 minutes was a story of missed opportunities for the Candystripes, and particularly for Rory Patterson whose worst miss was a header from point-blank range, while Michael Duffy was denied by Drogs keeper Michael Ryan.

But less than 60 seconds into the second period Michael Daly fired the Boynesiders ahead following a corner kick.

Derry rolled up their sleeves and pushed hard after that, and finally drew level when Byrne forced the ball in from close range.

Patterson’s night was summed up when he had a late effort ruled out for offside.

After an uneventful opening 15 minutes, there was goalmouth action at both ends, starting with a ferocious 40-yard free kick by Drogheda’s Eric Foley which flew narrowly wide.

Almost immediately Michael Duffy dribbled through the heart of the home defence to go one-on-one with keeper Dave Ryan who stood up well to make a fine block.

The Candystripes were looking more composed at this stage and they had another great chance when Rory Patterson headed over the bar from close range after great wing play by Mark Stewart.

Just after the half-hour mark Patterson was left shaking his head again after slicing an attempted chip over the stranded Ryan, and Mark Stewart then had a close-range effort nodded off the line by Eric Foley.

But Drogheda improved coming up to half-time and Ciaran Gallagher – preferred in the Derry goal to Ger Doherty – came off his line to block at the feet of Cathal Brady.

The Candystripes did not heed the warning and inside a minute of the restart they were chasing the game, with Daly was the unlikely Drogs scorer with a hook shot after Derry had failed to clear a Brady corner kick.

Duffy should have levelled for the Candystripes when substitute Patrick McEleney squared the ball into his path and it took a combination of keeper Ryan and centre-half Ciaran McGuigan to keep the ball out.

The visitors continued to look the more likely scorers and after another couple of Patterson misses they finally regained parity on 76 minutes.

A Duffy corner caused panic in the home rearguard and the ball eventually dropped to the feet of Byrne who forced a low shot past Ryan.

Drogheda United: Dave Ryan; Michael Daly, Alan McNally, Ciaran McGuigan, Shane Grimes; Daire Doyle (Stephen Maher 62), Eric Foley; Carl Walshe (Austin McCann 76), Gavan Holohan, Cathal Brady; Gary O’Neill.

Subs not used: Paul Andrews, Ciaran O’Connor, Dylan Connolly.

Derry City: Ciaran Gallagher; Roddy Collins, Cliff Byrne, Aaron Barry, Dean Jarvis; Michael Duffy, Danny Ventre, Barry Molloy, Mark Stewart; Rory Patterson, Enda Curran (Patrick McEleney 46).

Subs not used: Shane McEleney, Raymond Foy, Mark Timlin, Ryan Curran, Dave Elebert, Tony McNamee.

Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin).