Battling Blues make their point

Cork City 1 Waterford United 1

That they failed to do so will be a source of concern for manager Damian Richardson, especially as City so thoroughly dominated the play at Turner's Cross last night.

But he will be somewhat relieved at least that City maintain their four -point lead at the top of the eircom Premier Division.

City were the class side throughout and from the outset they pressurised an obviously nervous Waterford, who were weighed down by a combination of the club's financial woes, their poor league form and new manager Brendan Rea's willingness to impose changes.

The Blues were unable to match the home side for skill, vision or tempo.

Despite this, the fare on offer from City was poor and there was no initial sign that they had the key to unlock the Waterford defence.

For the first 30 minutes, in fact, they only had two serious efforts on goal, a statistic which causes concern given their superiority.

While this may have been a worry for Richardson with a crucial European tie imminent, it must have been some small consolation for Rea in only his second game in charge at Waterford and even if his side were being largely out-muscled, the were not buckling under the strain.

But in the 37th minute Liam Kearney changed all that with a tasty goal, even though keeper Pakie Holden could have done more to keep it out.

City had won the ball out on the right thanks to the efforts of Greg O'Halloran. George O'Callaghan then sent Neal Horgan down the line and he cleverly cut the ball back to the unmarked Kearney, who turned and beat Holden with a low left-foot shot.

It was a lead that City deserved and one they expected to bring into the dressing room with them at half time.

Sadly for Richardson and his men, that scenario did not work out as planned as, almost on half time, Waterford scored in a most unexpected fashion.

An off-target Colm Heffernan shot found its way to Dave Mulcahy and, despite the fact he seemed to mis-hit his effort, it still screwed over Mark McNulty in the City goal and the Blues were level.

That the Waterford captain was still on the pitch at that stage was a matter of some discussion among the home fans as he had already received a stern lecture and a yellow card from referee Ian Stokes for two wild tackles.

On the restart City started the brighter, pressing continuously and not allowing Waterford escape the straitjacket being imposed on them.

Roy O'Donovan was brought on in the 65th minute to try and provide some ammunition for Fenn and O'Flynn after City had failed to have a meaningful shot on goal.

Waterford were defending stoutly, if a little vigorously, as the yellow cards issued to Breen and Finn attested, but City's efforts in the final third were still unremarkable.

On 69 minutes Gamble made a typically aggressive run from midfield and forced Holden into a fine save. A minute later O'Flynn shot high over the bar when he got on the end of a Kearney cross, but to the frustration of the crowd, O'Donovan was probably better placed to have the shot.

Much to the annoyance of the small Waterford contingent, former hero Willie Bruton, recently transferred to City to alleviate cash problems, was given his debut as a replacement for Neale Fenn.

Richardson threw Derek Coughlan on up front in the dying minutes to see if he could wrestle a winner. He had a header just wide at the death, but at that stage it probably would have been an injustice had City taken all the points. Waterford deserved what they got for sheer tenacity.

The probability is that against Swedish opposition next Thursday, it is Cork will have to be the tenacious ones.

CORK CITY: M McNulty; N Horgan (D Coughlan, 89 mins), A Bennett, D Murray, D Murphy; L Kearney, J Gamble, G O'Callaghan, G O'Halloran (R O'Donovan, 65 mins); N Fenn, J O'Flynn.

WATERFORD UNITED: P Holden; D Breen, K Doherty (J Hayes, 28), P Purcell, S Finn; K Waters, D Mulcahy S Grant, C Heffernan; V Sullivan (J Lester, 88 mins), N Andrews (K Browne, 90 mins).

Referee: Ian Stokes (Dublin).

Cork games live

CORK CITY'S crucial upcoming eircom League games against title rivals, Shelbourne and Derry City, will be screened live.

City's clash with Shels next Monday week, August 15 will be screened on RTE Two, as will their visit to the Brandywell the following Friday night from 7.25pm.

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