Derry City left it late to earn a point against Finn Harps in an action packed 2-2 draw at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Derry took the lead thanks to Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe's header, before goals from Jordan Mustoe and Ryan Rainey gave the Donegal men the lead, but Joe Thomson's 89th minute equaliser settled things on the pitch.
However both teams were reduced to 10 men in the aftermath of Thomson’s late strike, when Harps goalkeeper Mark-Anthony McGinley and City’s goalscorer Thomson were dismissed by referee Neil Doyle, as both sets of players were involved in a row.
City went close to breaking the deadlock on 11 minutes as James Akintunde’s clever pass found Daniel Lafferty, but after getting in behind the Harps defence, his left footed effort was kept out by McGinley.
The home side took the lead minutes later as Thomson’s teasing right wing cross found striker Ogedi-Uzokwe, who rose superbly to powerfully head home past McGinley.
McGinley was called into action just after the half-hour mark as he dived low to keep out Evan McLaughlin’s snapshot, as the midfielder impressed in the opening half-hour.
Harps equalised on 39 minutes as Mustoe’s outstanding left-footed dipping long-range strike, sailed over Nathan Gartside and clipped the inside of the post on its way into the net.
Just before the break Derry went close to going back in front as Ronan Boyce’s looping header, which had McGinley beaten, was headed off the line by midfielder Will Seymore.
Harps took the lead on 62 minutes in superb fashion when a slick passing move down their right ended with Seymore’s low teasing cross finding the in-rushing Rainey, who fired home low into Gartside’s bottom right hand corner.
Moments later Derry were denied twice in quick succession as firstly substitute Jamie McGonigle’s well hit drive was tipped around the post by McGinley and the Harps keeper had to keep out Thomson’s shot, after Derry’s resulting corner routine had created the chance.
Derry had a golden chance to level things on 77 minutes as substitute Will Fitzgerald released McGonigle, but the ex-Crusaders striker was denied by McGinley, as his tame side-footed strike was straight at the Harps keeper.
McGonigle had another super opportunity moments later this time as Junior’s knock down found the front man inside the penalty box, but his close range shot was saved by McGinley.
The home side levelled things on 89 minutes as Thomson’s powerful close range effort flew past McGinley and as Derry attempted to get the ball back, a row erupted and resulted in both Harps goalkeeper McGinley and City’s goalscorer Thomson receiving straight red cards from referee Neil Doyle.
As Harps had made all their changes, defender Johnny Dunleavy had to go into goals for the closing stages, but Derry were unable to test him.
Derry City: Nathan Gartside, Ronan Boyce, Cameron McJannet, Eoin Toal, Ciaran Coll (Will Fitzgerald 71), Daniel Lafferty; Ciaron Harkin (Bastien Hery 71), Joe Thomson, Evan McLaughlin (Jamie McGonigle 63); James Akintunde (Jack Malone 92), Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley, Ethan Boyle, Kosovar Sadiki, Shane McEleney, Jordan Mustoe (Sean Boyd 76); Will Seymore, Barry McNamee, Mark Coyle (Johnny Dunleavy 88); Ryan Rainey, Tunde Owolabi, Adam Foley (Karl O’Sullivan HT).
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).