Cork City earned their first win of the season as Seán McLoughlin and Gearóid Morrissey were on target to see off Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds last night.
A crowd of 2,275 was present to see these sides, neither of whom had registered a victory, and the Rebel Army took a 2-0 lead before having to defend stoutly following a concession midway through the second half.
Sligo had begun the season with a draw away to Dundalk and then were unfortunate to concede a late St Pat’s winner on Friday, but remained without Ronan Murray last night, while former City men Ronan Coughlan and John Dunleavy were added to the injured list.
Having suffered defeats to St Patrick’s Athletic and Waterford without scoring a goal, City made five changes to their line-up from the latter loss, at Turner’s Cross last Friday, and it took just 14 minutes for them to break their duck. They had had the better of the play up until then, forcing four corners in that period, and the last of those, by Shane Griffin, caused confusion in the Sligo defence, allowing centre-back McLoughlin to prod the ball home.
The natural by-product of the goal was to force Sligo to attack more, with City having to withstand their pressure, though sometimes at a cost — they had three first-half bookings and four more yellow cards in the second period.
Jamaican striker Romeo Parkes, nominally wide on the left but with a licence to roam, was the key creative outlet for the Bit O’ Red and twice he was nearly played in by Jack Keaney, with first Dan Casey and then Conor McCormack making vital interventions. Daryl Fordyce might have had another chance but he failed to get his head to a cross from the left.
As half-time neared, Sligo fashioned their best chance of the first period and this time Parkes was the creator as he did well to find Fordyce on the right-hand side. However, he might have been better served shooting first time, his touch taking him away from goal before he fired just over Mark McNulty’s goal.
Within four minutes of the restart, City had their second goal. There was no doubting the quality of the finish as Morrissey, who missed last Friday’s defeat through injury, launched a brilliant 25-yard shot to the top corner, but Sligo did have misgivings as to the robustness of Conor McCormack’s challenge to win back possession.
Again, Sligo looked to respond to a concession in a positive fashion and a Kyle Callan-McFadden ball over the top to Parkes saw him send a half-volley over whilea cross by Kris Twardek, another overseas import at the Showgrounds, was headed not far wide by Keaney.
When a driving run by Parkes drew a foul just before the hour, Keaney curled the resultant free kick just wide, though at the other end Dan Casey was unlucky not to get his first City goal, his glancing header from O’Connor’s free kick narrowly off-target.
FULL TIME | SR 1-2 CC @SeanMaka on target in the first half, followed by a second half screamer from @Gearoid_M. Next up, we welcome Derry City to Turner’s Cross next Friday night! #CCFC84 pic.twitter.com/uAulunp057— Cork City FC (@CorkCityFC) February 25, 2019
Sligo continued to press and they were rewarded in the 64th minute, albeit controversially as the awarding of a home corner met with dissent from City. However, that mattered little to Sligo as Keaney’s delivery from the right was perfect and captain Callan-McFadden was allowed an unmarked header to arrow the ball to the bottom corner.
Despite the introduction of the fit-again David Cawley, Sligo couldn’t sufficiently test McNulty in their quest for an equaliser in the final quarter of the game.
Liam Nash went close for City with a header from another O’Connor set-piece before he departed, with new loan signing Dan Smith and James Tilley sent in to give fresh energy to City’s attack to take the pressure off the doughty defence.
A Karl Sheppard free kick was deflected into Ed McGinty’s hands and Morrissey had a low effort well-blocked by the quietly impressive John Mahon, and Sligo’s hopes were receding. Cawley’s introduction for Liam Kerrigan saw imposing centre-back Dante Leverock move from defence to attack and his flick-on led to a Parkes chance which was sent over, but they couldn’t come closer than that.
They travel north to face Finn Harps on Friday while City look to build on the momentum generated here with a home clash against Derry City.
McGinty; Banks, Leverock, Mahon, Donelon (Morahan 7); Callan-McFadden, Keaney; Twardek, Fordyce (Warde 65), Parkes; Kerrigan (Cawley 65).
McNulty; McCarthy, Casey, McLoughlin, Griffin; McCormack, Morrissey; D O’Connor (Tilley 69), Buckley, Sheppard; Nash (Smith 69).
B Connolly (Dublin).