No Progres as City press self-destruct button

No Progres as City press self-destruct button
Cork City’s Karl Sheppard sees his penalty saved by Progrès Niederkorn goalkeeper Sébastien Flauss in last night’s Europa League First Qualifying Round first leg at Turners’ Cross. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.

The dream beforehand had been of a box-office clash with Rangers but the reality, on an evening when Cork City repeatedly pressed the self-destruct button, was something more like a nightmare as, after a first half in which the home side conceded two goals and also missed a penalty, the resultant 0-2 defeat gives Progres Niederkorn what looks like full control of this Europa League First Qualifying Round tie ahead of next week’s second leg in Luxembourg.

For City, deployed once again in a 3-5-2 formation, there had been a starting place for new signing Joel Coustrain while the re-signed Mark O’Sullivan had to settle for a place on the bench at kick off, along with Alan Bennett and Daire O’Connor among others. It wouldn’t be long, however, before dire circumstances for the home side dictated that striker O’Sullivan would enter the fray.

At a sun-splashed Turner’s Cross, with Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny and former City hero Seanie Maguire and his Preston team-mate Graham Burke among the attendance of 3,137, the home side had looked to get off to a quick start against visitors who’d struggled on their travels to overcome the amateurs of Cardiff Metrolpolitan University in the previous round, losing 2-1 in the second leg and only going through on an away goal.

By common consent, City’s performance against Bohemians last week had been one of their more promising of the season so far but, even so, the result — a second scoreless draw in succession — had highlighted a recurring deficiency that they urgently needed to rectify last night: a costly failure to convert chances into goals.

But of no less importance, of course, was keeping the clean sheet that would mean the men from Luxembourg wouldn’t leave Cork with a precious away goal.

But that hope was dashed after only 10 minutes in a moment of utter self-destruction at the back as, with his team mates having already made a meal of clearing their lines, Colm Horgan, on his European debut, contrived to hand the ball on a plate close to the the near post to Belmin Muratovic.

The Progres number 10 was hardly able to believe his luck as he made the very most of the gift by beating Mark McNulty from a narrow angle.

And, just ten minutes later, things went from bad to worse for Cork and Horgan, as the wing-back brought down Mayron De Almeida in the box and, after picking himself up, the Belgian, one of Niederkorn’s more eye-catching players on the night, blasted the resultant spot kick past McNulty.

The shocking double whammy saw John Cotter forced to take drastic action even before the half-way point of the first half, the unfortunate Horgan promptly called ashore as O’Sullivan was sent into the fray.

And, almost immediately, a reckless foul in the box on Conor McCarthy appeared to throw City a lifeline as the Latvian referee again pointed to the spot but this time in front of the delighted Shed End. However, on an evening when everything was going wrong for the Rebels, skipper Karl Sheppard saw the dive of Progres ‘keeper Sebastian Flauss deflect his driven penalty over the top.

The second half was a prolonged exercise in frustration and growing dismay for City and their fans, with Progres, two goals to the good, understandably happy enough to concede possession for the most part. However the home side, for all their endeavour, did precious little to directly threaten the visitors’ goal, ‘keeper Flauss able to enjoy an almost entirely untroubled second 45 between the posts.

Indeed, it was Progres who came closest to adding to their tally on one or two occasions, their failure to do so the only small mercy for City on a European night to forget at Turner’s Cross and one which leaves John Cotter’s team needing the kind of stirring, if improbable, comeback in Luxembourg that, after the devastating setbacks of the first half had taken their toll, simply never looked on the cards in Cork.

CORK CITY: McNulty, McCarthy, Casey, McLoughlin, Horgan (O’Sullivan 24), Morrissey, McCormack, Buckley (Boylan 60), Hurley, Coustrain (Crowley 80), Sheppard.

FC PROGRES NIEDERKORN: Flauss, Laterza, Skenderovic, Hall, Karayer, Vogel, Muratovic (Mmaee 71), Silaj, Thill (Ferino 87), De Almeida, Tekiela (Marques 92) Referee: Aleksanders Anufrijevs (Latvia).

More on this topic

West Ham complete club-record signing of Sebastien HallerWest Ham complete club-record signing of Sebastien Haller

Captain Lascelles calls for united front as Newcastle appoint BruceCaptain Lascelles calls for united front as Newcastle appoint Bruce

Bruce faces battle to win over disillusioned fans and rebuild depleted squadBruce faces battle to win over disillusioned fans and rebuild depleted squad

Kieran Trippier nears Atleti switch with Spurs also set to sell Danny RoseKieran Trippier nears Atleti switch with Spurs also set to sell Danny Rose

More in this Section

Wexford star scores stunning keepie-uppie volleyWexford star scores stunning keepie-uppie volley

Portmarnock ‘logical first step’ for global Open, says HarringtonPortmarnock ‘logical first step’ for global Open, says Harrington

One change for Cork footballers as Sean Powter returns to the benchOne change for Cork footballers as Sean Powter returns to the bench

Jota hopes to be pitch-perfect for WolvesJota hopes to be pitch-perfect for Wolves


Lifestyle

Close to Lisbon but far less crowded, this pleasant town is the ideal base for rest and relaxation, says Liz Ryan.Cascais: The dreamy Portuguese seaside town you really need to know

Here are some ideas if you’re finding shows limited in terms of representation.5 shows that will offer your child a more diverse view of the world

Mix up your usual Friday night fish supper with this Japanese inspired number.How to make salmon teriyaki

Limestone, a river and Theodore Roosevelt. Luke Rix-Standing peels through the layers of one of nature’s mightiest sites.As the Grand Canyon turns 100 – a brief history of the world’s most famous rock formation

More From The Irish Examiner