Fenn brace sees Cork go seven points clear

St Patrick's Athletic 0 Cork City 2

The Rebels have now extended their unbeaten league run to 13 games and go seven points clear of Derry City at the top of the eircom Premier Division.

"I wouldn't castigate Neale for missing the penalty and not getting his hat-trick - I missed a penalty once," a happy Cork City manager Damien Richardson quipped afterwards.

"I had demanded more goals from Neale and that's five goals in the last six games which is probably the best scoring form of his career."

Richardson also expressed satisfaction at his team's form.

"To be top of the table means this is obviously championship winning form but the crucial point about that is we have to maintain it," he said.

"We've got big games coming up in Europe that are going to be demanding and we have got to keep our focus on the fact that the league remains of primary importance."

From close to the quarter of an hour mark in Richmond Park, Cork kept up sustained pressure on the Pats goal. First, after a good build-up on the left, Liam Kearney's deep cross to the far post was struck first-time into the side-netting by the unmarked John O'Flynn. Kearney then went close himself with a header from George O'Callaghan's cross, before Danny Murphy forced Barry Ryan to get down smartly at his post to smother a 25-yard drive.

In the 18th minute, Kearney, causing Pats constant trouble on the left, completed a fine run with a teasing cross to the near post but Ryan did well to keep out Fenn's glancing header at the expense of the corner. In quick succession, O'Callaghan then had two headers saved by the busy Pats' keeper, as Cork looked to turn their superiority into goals.

In the end, the breakthrough came just before the break after an unforced error by Pats. O'Flynn seized on Keith Dunne's misplaced header to race into the box and prod a shot goalwards. Ryan got a foot to the striker's effort but as the ball continued to bounce towards the line, Fenn was on hand to ensure it ended up in the back of the net.

In the second half, Cork remained in the ascendancy. A miserable debut for Pats' Alan Reilly, their new signing from Drogheda, saw him sent off for a second bookable offence in the 64th minute, after a tackle on George O'Callaghan. In the first half, Reilly had been carded for a shirt-pull.

None the worse for wear, O'Callaghan promptly weaved his way into the Pats box but Barry Ryan read his intentions and saved well. Although Pats were restricted to one speculative long-range effort from John Frost, Damien Richardson admitted afterwards as long as it remained at one-nil there was a chance the Dubliners might get back into the game.

But Cork finally sealed the win 10 minutes from the end. Kearney's deflected cross fell short to Fenn at the near post and, after he'd exchanged neat passes with O'Callaghan, the striker tucked the ball past Ryan from close range for his second goal.

Three minutes later, Fenn might have had his hat-trick after Frost, slipping, handled Kearney's cross in the box. But Barry Ryan saved Fenn's penalty and the striker could only blast the rebound over the bar.

In an ugly footnote to the game, a Cork City fan in the stand was hit with a stone near the end of the match. The bloodied supporter was led away for treatment. There were also reports of an outbreak of fighting between some Cork and Pats fans after the final whistle. An official report into the incidents is expected to go before the league.

ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: Ryan, Prenderville, Frost, Donnelly, Maguire, Caffrey, Dunne (Maher 59), Reilly, Doyle (Foley 84), Rowe, O' Connor

CORK CITY: McNulty, Murphy, O' Halloran, Murray, Bennett, Gamble (O Brien 90) Horgan, O' Callaghan, Kearney (Woods 90), Fenn, O' Flynn (Bruton 88)

Referee: Pat Whelan.

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