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League of Ireland: Derry and leaders Shelbourne in Dublin stalemate

Shelbourne's Paddy Barrett attempts to block Ronan Boyce's shot in Monday's game
Shelbourne's Paddy Barrett attempts to block Ronan Boyce's shot in Monday's game [Inpho]

Derry City improved after two successive defeats with a goalless draw against Premier Division pacesetters Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Monday.

Evan Caffrey fired over for the unbeaten Shels before before City took control in the first half.

Ronan Boyce blasted over and Pat Hoban was also off-target with a header before Patching's free-kick flew just over the woodwork.

Patching saw another free-kick deflected wide in a tight second half.

It was a game of few chances but Derry impressed with an urgency and energy missing from their home defeat by Galway United three days earlier.

Shelbourne have dropped just one point so far and they threatened first when a ball over the top found Caffrey but he volleyed over.

The visitors gained the upper hand with Boyce, Hoban and Patching going close for the Candystripes.

Shelbourne's Sean Boyd heads clear late in the league encounter against Derry
Shelbourne's Sean Boyd heads clear late in the league encounter against Derry [Inpho]

The momentum shifted to Shelbourne on the restart and it required an excellent block from Patrick McEleney to deny the Dublin hosts a goalscoring opportunity.

It developed into a close, tense affair with Derry substitute Danny Mullen dragging wide before Patching again missed out from a free-kick.

There was panic in Shels goalmouth in the dying seconds but City failed to capitalise and it remained deadlocked. Derry sit third as one of three teams trailing Shelbourne by eight points.

"We had a plan from a defensive point of view to stop their threat and I felt it worked but we wanted to hurst them more at the other end," said Candystripes boss Ruaidhri Higgins.

"We had a lot of possession in the first two thirds, we just lacked that spark at the top end and when confidence is a bit low from Friday night it can be expected.

"Thankfully the commitment that the players gave is the done thing now - we can never repeat a performance like Friday night ever again.

"All we asked the players was to give a totally committed performance and I think they gave everything they had. There'll be a few bodies back soon enough and fingers crossed we can get back on the horse again."