A late deflected goal from Richie Towell earned Dundalk a hard-earned 2-2 at Derry City, to maintain their lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

The visitors raced into the lead through Kurtis Byrne, before goals from Barry McNamee and Michael Duffy gave City the lead, before the stoppage-time equaliser for Stephen Kenny's side.

The league leaders missed a golden chance on 16 minutes when Darren Meenan’s right wing free-kick found Dane Massey, but the left-back’s header from 10 yards flew over the bar.

Just before the mid-way point of the half City thought they had broken the deadlock but Rory Patterson’s super finish was ruled offside.

Dundalk continued to pile forward in search of the opening goal and they went close again soon after this time Richie Towell’s 20 yard strike fizzed past City keeper’s Gerard Doherty’s left hand post.

Stephen Kenny’s men took the lead right on the stroke of half-time when Kurtis Byrne blasted home from close range, after Barry Molloy had flicked the ball into his path.

Derry did not let their heads drop and they levelled things straight away when Barry McNamee netted his second goal in three games, blasting home past Peter Cherrie.

The home side scored a goal of the month contender on 52 minutes when Michael Duffy’s 30-yard drive gave Cherrie no chance as the ball flew high into the keeper’s top left hand corner.

On the hour mark Dundalk had a good chance to equalise, but Meenan’s strike was saved at the second attempt by Doherty.

Derry had a man sent off on 70 minutes when Cliff Byrne was given a straight red card by referee Rob Rogers, after the City skipper had clashed with Patrick Hoban off the ball.

The visitors levelled things deep into stoppage-time thanks to Towell’s deflected effort, which sailed in past Doherty.

Derry City: Doherty, Jarvis, Byrne, McBride, Barry; Duffy, B McNamee, Molloy, P McEleney (S McEleney 77), Timlin; Patterson (Boyle 90).

Dundalk: Cherrie, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields (Higgins 74), Towell, Moutney (Hoban 69); Horgan (Griffin 55), Byrne, Meenan.

Referee: Robert Rogers (Dublin).