Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe poked home five minutes from time to ensure a day of turmoil for Dundalk at least didn't end in defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic at Oriel Park.
With team manager Shane Keegan stepping down from his role at the Co Louth club earlier in the day, it looked as though Dundalk were set to slip for their fourth league defeat in-a-row after Sam Bone had headed the visitors in front on 56 minutes.
However, Junior’s equaliser late on ensured a first point for the Lilywhites since their opening day draw away to Sligo Rovers.
With rumours that Filippo Giovagnoli could follow Keegan in exiting Oriel the problems off the field may not be over for the FAI Cup holders but they at least showed plenty of fight to come back into the game and were perhaps unlucky not to snatch the win in stoppage time.
Stephen O’Donnell’s men had dominated the opening exchanges and looked like they would strengthen their position at the top of the table but, on the whole, a draw was probably a fair result.
It was a nervous start from the home side with a mistake at the back gifting Matty Smith with the game’s first chance on three minutes but Andy Boyle did well to block.
Smith would then force the first save of the game from Alessio Abibi, restored to the side after being dropped for Peter Cherrie for the defeat to Bohemians eight days ago, on the quarter hour mark. The former Waterford man then turned provider for the half’s best chance a minute later but Robbie Benson blazed over with his left foot after being teed up at the edge of the box.
Benson would have another half chance with a header on 23 minutes before Dundalk gradually grew into the game as half-time approached.
Their first attempt came on 39 minutes when Michael Duffy broke up the left only to see his effort blocked by Lee Desmond.
Patrick Hoban then had their first attempt on goal three minutes later when he flicked Cameron Dummigan’s cross goalward only for it to fall comfortably into the arms of Vitezslav Jaros.
His opposite number Abibi then showed great bravery in stoppage time to save at the feet of Jason McClelland, with both players feeling the effects of it.
The Albanian would come to his side’s rescue again on 52 minutes when he turned Ronan Coughlan’s shot from the right around the post after he was setup by Chris Forrester.
The breakthrough then arrived five minutes later when Bone headed home at the near post from Benson’s corner.
Dundalk had a glorious chance to level on 73 minutes when Duffy’s corner dropped to Chris Shields eight yards out but somehow the Lilywhites captain pulled his shot to the left and wide.
Substitute Billy King then went close to doubling Pat’s advantage a minute later but he was denied by a brilliant one-handed stop by Abibi.
As the game opened up Hoban would go clear on 75 minutes but after the ball was pushed away by Jaros, the on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper did well to turn Junior’s follow up over.
At the other end eight minutes later Abibi came to Dundalk’s rescue once again when he turned King’s shot out for a corner after he had been slipped in by Forrester.
That would prove crucial as Dundalk levelled on 85 minutes with Junior bundling the ball through the legs of Jaros after a heavy touch by Cleary looked like it would see a good change go abegging.
Both sides had chances to win it after that with Duffy being denied by Jaros before Benson scuffed a half volley wide on the 90 minute mark.
Paddy Barrett then denied his old club a stoppage time winner with two goal line clearances in quick succession, firstly to keep out Ian Bermingham’s miscued clearance and then to keep out Darragh Leahy’s follow up.
David McMillan had another header after that from a Duffy cross but unfortunately for the home side it was straight at the keeper.
It’s a long way back for Dundalk still in terms of a title race but this, at least, was a step in the right direction in stopping the rot.
Dundalk: Alessio Abibi; Raivis Jurkovskis, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Cameron Dummigan (Darragh Leahy 78); Chris Shields, Sam Stanton (David McMillan 78); Han Jeong Woo (Junior Ogedi Uzokwe 59), Ole Erik Midtskogen, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; John Mountney, Sam Bone, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Chris Forrester, Jamie Lennon (Alfie Lewis 87); Ronan Coughlan (Billy King 69), Robbie Benson, Jason McClelland (Paddy Barrett 49); Matty Smith.
Referee: Damien MacGraith (Mayo).