Ten man City hold off Harps challenge by Philip Morrissey
Cork City got their title bid back on track after a game that was in the balance more than what they had anticipated. The home team had seen their ambitions slip after a run in which they had failed to win in the previous three league games. Much had been expected after the 1-0 victory up in Dundalk, but the subsequent draws had seen them fall behind yet again. The premier division new boys, had come down south in confident form having made a bright start to the campaign despite their anticipated struggles. The mid-week fixtures in the league cup had promised much for both sides. City stuck seven past a hapless Waterford side and Harps had beaten Galway United on penalties.
The game certainly took off with a bang. A few minutes were on the clock when the away team created an opportunity in front of the shed end. Almost immediately though, Caulfield’s men were ahead. A period of good possession and movement lead to the ball landing at the feet of Gearoid Morrissey. He let fly and the ball took a massive deflection off Packie Malley to beat the unlucky Richard Brush. The crowd barely had time to let the cheers subside when they saw another goal. An in-swinging corner from Dooley found the un-marked Sean Maguire to head into the top left corner. Was this an opportunity to set out a statement and improve their goal difference at the same time? Unfortunately not.
A few more opportunities came and went before the half-time whistle. The game had not been helped by two serious looking injuries suffered by Ollie Horgan’s outfit. Adam Hanlon and Raymond Foy but had to come off, resulting in a game that had increasingly become disjointed and lacking in fluency. City’s passing had worsened since the start of the game and the Foylesider’s were just happy to get in and regroup.
The second-half began in a similar fashion but no further changes. The main talking point of the game, took place early in this period however. City had won a corner which was taken before the referee blew his whistle. His attention had been drawn towards a tangle in the box between two players. He called over both Kenny Browne and David Scully. The former St. Pats man received a red card and the opposing player a yellow for his involvement. Having been in control for almost the entire game, there was a fear about further dropped points. Finn Harps continued to press without causing too many serious problems.
Their cause was not helped by another injury to one of their players. This time, Richard Brush, had to depart. The game itself was settled once and for all with fifteen minutes to go. Karl Sheppard raced through on a ball played by Maguire and the former Shamrock Rovers man finished well past the substitute keeper, Ciaran Gallagher. The home fans cheered out of relief as much as celebration. McNulty’s clean sheet for the night was spoiled by Ryan Curran’s low drive following a set piece in the dying embers of the game.
Not a game that was likely to last long in the memory but the three points were all important. Much to improve on but at least the team and management know that. Onwards and upwards.