A draw was the fairest outcome at Turner’s Cross tonight as Cork City and Bohemians cancelled each other out.
While the result – City’s second 0-0 in a week – means six without a win in the league, there were positives to take, not the least the continued defensive security afforded by a three-man defence. This was the third time this season that City had held Bohs in the Premier Division.
City had two changes from the scoreless draw at Finn Harps on Monday night. Karl Sheppard returned after injury to lead the line in a 3-4-2-1 while new loan signing slotted in behind him alongside Garry Buckley, with Gary Boylan and Darragh Rainsford the players to miss out. Mark O’Sullivan, back with City for a third spell, was named among the substitutes.
While the Rebel Army went into the game without a win in five in the league and 16 points behind their visitors, both Premier Division clashes with Bohs this season had resulted in City wins and they looked to set a positive tone early.
Conor McCormack had an early long-range shot which was wide and in the sixth minute a good Ronan Hurley cross from the left was met by Karl Sheppard but goalkeeper James Talbot was able to turn the ball around the post.
Though the tempo dropped, City continued to have the better of the play and when Sheppard was fouled on the left by James Finnerty in the 18th minute, Gearóid Morrissey’s free kick was almost met by former Bohs man Dan Casey but Darragh Leahy was on hand to defend well.
Then, on 25, a long, searching ball from Casey found Sheppard, whose lay-off to Hurley allowed him to cross for Colm Horgan at the back post. He in turn tried to find Buckley, who was unable to get the ball under control.
Five minutes before the break, Sheppard picked the ball up 30 yards out and carried it forward but his shot wasn’t testing Talbot. However, Bohs had the last chance of the half and it was the best. Danny Mandroiu set Luke Wade-Slater away on the right and his cross was well directed towards Keith Ward at the back post but he couldn’t keep his effort on target.
Immediately after the resumption, Colm Horgan had a great chance when Coustrain’s cross was half-blocked and fell for him but he screwed his shot over. A minute later, Horgan wasn’t able to get enough on Hurley’s cross from the left and headed wide.
On 51, Coustrain almost created something as he exchanged passes on the left with Hurley and sent in a dangerous low cross but, before Horgan could get on the end of it, Bohs left-back Paddy Kirk managed to clear.
Just after the hour mark, O’Sullivan replaced Coustrain as City went to a 3-5-2, but Bohs were beginning to get on top and that was reflected in the volume of chances created. Mandroiu was central to their best play his lay-off afforded sub Robbie McCourt an early opportunity from distance but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
Fifteen minutes from the end, Mandroiu’s headed flick nearly put another sub, Ryan Graydon, in on goal but, before he could get a shot away, Ronan Hurley got in a good challenge at the expense of a corner. Keith Ward took that corner, which was met by Darragh Leahy with Mark McNulty saving and, though there was a nervous moment as the ball bounced around the goalmouth, City cleared.
To their credit, City continued to press, but clear-cut chances were at a premium. Sheppard might have tested Talbot on 84 but Leahy got in a fine block to deny him. Ward had a late chance for Bohs when sub Scott Allardice but he couldn’t find the target and at the very death Morrissey’s low shot was wide.
Meanwhile, the top two in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division have both dropped points tonight.
Dundalk thought they'd taken all three-points with Pat Hoban's late goal away to Derry.
But Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe struck at the death to salvage a 2-2 draw for the Candystripes.
Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers were held to a goalless draw in Tallaght by Sligo.
Conor Clifford scored a goal of the season contender as St. Pat's won 2-1 away to Waterford.
While UCD beat fellow strugglers Finn Harps by a goal to 0.
CORK CITY: McNulty; McCarthy, Casey, McLoughin; Horgan, McCormack, Morrissey, Hurley; Coustrain (Coustrain 61), Buckley (D O’Connor 87), Sheppard.
BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Pender, Finnerty, Leahy, Kirk; Buckley (Allardice 87), Levingston (McCourt 57); Swan (Graydon 70), Mandroiu, Ward; Wade-Slater.
Referee: R Matthews (Westmeath).