A late Billy King goal earned St Patrick's Athletic a deserved point at Derry City.

After taking the lead thanks to Lee Desmond’s goal, which was quickly cancelled out by Ronan Boyce, it was the home side who went in front through Joe Thomson’s stunning drive on 60 minutes.

However, King’s late header ended the scoring in an entertaining clash, at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

On five minutes a super cross field ball from St Pat's left-back Desmond found King, but the midfielder, who had ghosted in behind Ciaran Coll, blasted over the bar.

The Saints took the lead on 23 minutes as a John Mountney inswinging corner was only punched high up into the lead by Derry keeper Nathan Gartside and Desmond rose highest to head home the loose ball.

Derry levelled things in somewhat controversial circumstances as Boyce bundled home the ball from close range and the goal was given despite St Pat’s keeper Vitezslav Jaros complaining that he was fouled by Cameron McJannet.

The woodwork came to Derry’s rescue just after the half hour mark as Robbie Benson’s well hit drive from just inside the box, which had Gartside beaten, clipped the crossbar.

St Pat’s midfielder Chris Forrester went close on 48 minutes, but his 20-yard strike, which had Gartside scrambling, whistled just over the bar.

Just before the hour mark a clever ball over the top by Ciaron Harkin released David Parkhouse, the big striker did well to turn Sam Bone inside out, but failed to trouble Jaros and blasted over.

Derry took the lead on 68 minutes in superb fashion as midfielder Thomson saw his 25-yard low drive through a ruck of players, flying into Jaros’ bottom right-hand corner.

Stephen O’Donnell’s side levelled on 85 minutes as substitute Ben McCormack’s teasing right wing cross found the lively King and the winger made no mistake powerfully heading home at the back post.

Derry came close to winning the game in the closing stages as James Akintunde got away from Bone but his left footed cross-cum-shot flashed across the six yard, inches away from Thomson.

Right at the death a super Benson corner from the right found Mountney, but the ex-Dundalk man somehow headed over from close range.

Derry City: Nathan Gartside, Ronan Boyce, Eoin Toal, Cameron McJannet, Ciaran Coll; Joe Thomson (Will Fitzgerald 88), Ciaron Harkin, Will Patching; James Akintunde, David Parkhouse (Darren Cole 81), Daniel Lafferty (Jack Malone 74).

St Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros, John Mountney, Sam Bone, Paddy Barrett (Ben McCormack 80), Lee Desmond, Shane Griffin (Ian Bermingham 31); Billy King, Alfie Lewis (Nahum Melvin-Lambert 70); Chris Forrester, Robbie Benson; Ronan Coughlan.

Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).