On a night when their needs were more than their wants, Ethan Boyle headed Finn Harps into a dramatic late lead only to then concede a penalty from which Derry City equalised.
Jamie McGonigle's spot kick on 87 minutes was the away side’s first shot on target and it came three minutes after Harps had finally made the breakthrough. Boyle won a header amid a clatter of players to head Ryan Connolly’s free home to the delight of the 3,141 inside of Finn Park only then to be penalised for handling a cross by McGonigle.
The point moves Harps outside of the relegation play-off position of ninth place on goal difference, ahead of Waterford who were 1-0 up on Shamrock Rovers before losing 3-1. Both teams have St Patrick’s Athletic and Longford Town to play.
In only the second minute, Tunde Owolabi got in behind following a flick-on from Will Seymore and from a narrow angle, drove high into the Derry side-netting. Boyle then unleashed a volley from the edge of the area that saw Nathan Gartside make an effective, although uncomfortable save. Owolabi also drew a save from the visiting goalkeeper.
Derry had an appeal for handball against Connolly in the penalty area on 27 minutes, with referee Ben Connolly having none of it. There was an even louder shout for a possible handball at the other end five minutes later when Cameron McJannett leant out to block a Seymore shot with his chest and again, nothing was given.
Owolabi found space on the inside right channel and drove a daisy-cutter across the Derry goal with the Harps players rushing to make it in vain like it was the last bus leaving the station. It was scoreless at the break.
As the rain fell in sheets, no quarter was given by either side. Competitive it was, with plenty of murmur, although no soundbites. A Jordan Mustoe cross on 66 minutes was deep and dangerous, with former Harps captain Ciaran Coll making a vital defensive header.
Owolabi was running himself into the ground up front for Harps, who, with the turnaround at the RSC, were even more vehemently backed.
Derry weren’t done though. Joe Thomson, though, drove into the ground with an unconventional shot that spun inches over the Harps crossbar with 12 minutes left to play. It was the closest Derry had come all evening.
Three minutes later, they came even closer when, with Harps pressing, James Akintunde played to substitute McGonigle, who lobbed an advancing McGinley and you could hear the shrieks as the ball took an eternity to drop just over the crossbar. That was only the beginning of the late drama with Boyle and McGonigle registering for their sides.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Ethan Boyle, Dave Webster, Kosovar Sadiki, Jordan Mustoe; Will Seymore, Mark Coyle (Karl O'Sullivan 68), Ryan Connolly, Ryan Rainey; Barry McNamee (Adam Foley 77), Tunde Owolabi (Luke Rudden 90+1).
Derry City: Nathan Gartside; Cameron McJannett (Ronan Boyce 77), Eoin Toal, Ciaran Coll, Joe Thompson, Jack Malone (Will Fitzgerald 85), Ciaron Harkin, Bastien Hery (Jamie McGonigle 72), Danny Lafferty; James Akintunde, Junior Ogedi Uzokwe.
Referee: Ben Connolly.