The second coming of Vinny Perth ended the same way as his first as Dundalk were held to a draw by Longford Town at Oriel Park.

The 44-year-old made his first return to the Co Louth venue in 309 days following his reappointment as manager in midweek but history repeated itself as this game ended with the same result as his first match in charge - against Sligo Rovers in February 2019 - in a game in which Patrick Hoban also missed a penalty.

On that occasion, Dundalk had fallen behind to Jack Keaney's strike before Sean Murray equalised. This time around it was Aaron McNally who gave bottom of the table Longford the lead before captain Chris Shields equalised on what was his 300th start for the club he is rumoured to be leaving soon for Linfield.

After news of Perth’s return after 10 months away was confirmed on Wednesday, this was an overall better showing from a Lilywhites side who had lost 3-1 at home to Waterford FC a week earlier.

However, they failed to make their dominance count with Hoban passing up a series of fine chances, including the spot kick he had saved by Lee Steacy on 74 minutes.

There was at least a little bit of passion and drive from the home side that has been missing all too often this season but, to their credit, Daire Doyle’s side were full value for their point.

They defended stoutly throughout and arguably had the best of the chances with the woodwork rattled in the first half and another effort cleared off the line in the second.

The Midlanders remain at the foot of the table but will hope to build on an encouraging display when they host second from bottom Waterford on Monday.

For Perth he will be hoping the first win of his second spell in charge of Dundalk will come in the Louth derby in Drogheda on the same day.

Buoyed by the encouragement of their new head coach, the home side started brightly with Daniel Kelly flashing a shot over on three minutes before being denied by a superb stop low to his right by Lee Steacy five minutes later.

The 100 supporters in Oriel Park were then stunned into silence on 13 minutes when the Midlanders took the lead. Paddy Kirk's ball from the left fell invitingly for the inrushing McNally at the back post to rifle across Alessio Abibi to the top left hand corner.

Aaron McNally gives Longford the lead

Despite that setback, Dundalk had a big chance to level on 20 minutes when Karl Chambers’ attempted header back to Steacy fell to Hoban, who somehow blazed over from six yards out.

Hoban then had another effort blocked two minutes later after Steacy had spilled a corner kick but it was the Louth men who were breathing a sigh of relief on 26 minutes when Dean Byrne rattled the crossbar, having been teed up by Aodh Dervin.

That was to prove crucial as the equaliser arrived three minutes later. Sean Murray’s ball looked to have played Kelly in behind only for Kirk to get back and block at the expense of a corner. The resultant delivery from Michael Duffy was then met by a bullet header from Shields for what was his 20th career goal.

It would be the 57th minute before either side seriously threatened again with Sam Stanton doing superbly well to get back and block on the line after Dylan Grimes, who had dispossessed him, had beaten Abibi.

Hoban did manage to flash a header just wide from Darragh Leahy’s cross on 65 minutes but somehow he failed to score three minutes later when Duffy’s shot deflected off Mick McDonnell into his path only about three yards out - his touch went straight into the midriff of Steacy.

Kelly then fired poorly wide on 70 minutes after being put away on the right by Stanton and injured himself in the process.

Dundalk looked like they would take the lead when they were awarded a penalty four minutes later after Rob Manley was adjudged to have handled Duffy’s corner but Hoban’s spot kick was saved by Steacy.

Lee Steacy saves Patrick Hoban's penalty

Abibi then denied Longford the lead at the other end on 77 minutes when he kept out Shields’ intervention after he tried to cut out Karl Chambers’ cross towards substitute Aaron Dobbs.

Hoban then headed over from close range three minutes later after getting on the end of Duffy’s corner.

Steacy then did brilliantly to turn Greg Sloggett’s long range drive around the post on 87 minutes before saving the follow up header from Hoban from Duffy’s corner.

Duffy then missed a glorious chance to steal the win in the 95th minute when he got on the end of McEleney’s cross only to see his effort flash agonisingly wide.

Dundalk: Alessio Abibi; Cameron Dummigan (Raivis Jurkovskis 64), Chris Shields, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Sam Stanton (Ole Erik Midtskogen 80), Patrick McEleney; Daniel Kelly (Val Adedokun 71), Sean Murray (Greg Sloggett 64), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.

Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Karl Chambers, Mick McDonnell, Aaron O’Driscoll, Paddy Kirk; Aodh Dervin, Dean Zambra; Aaron McNally, Dylan Grimes (Conor Davis 77), Dean Byrne (Aaron Robinson 88); Rob Manley (Aaron Dobbs 75).

Referee: Rob Hennessy (Limerick)