Cotter gets the bounce as battling City stun Bohemians

Cork City got the post-John Caulfield era off to the perfect start with three badly-needed and very hard-earned points at Dalymount Park.

Cotter gets the bounce as battling City stun Bohemians

Cork City got the post-John Caulfield era off to the perfect start with three badly-needed and very hard-earned points at Dalymount Park.

A first-half Conor McCarthy header proved to be the crucial difference against a Bohemians team who, though bossing the ball for almost the entirety of the second half, simply couldn’t find the necessary cutting edge to crack the resolute Rebels.

This had always been a season billed as one of likely transition at Cork City and it has certainly turned into that now, with the departure of the club’s most successful manager ever after five and a half years at the helm.

Although there were five changes last night from the City side which drew 1-1 at home to Finn Harps in what proved to be Caulfield’s last game in charge — including Conor McCormack and Dan Casey returning from suspension and Gearoid Morrissey back from injury — it was hardly a case of all changed, changed utterly either on or off the pitch for the start of the new era.

Former manager’s assistant John Cotter provided continuity in the dug-out as the new interim boss, aided and abetted by a couple of the club’s favourite sons, Alan Bennett and Colin Healy.

Bohemians manager Keith Long was forced into making changes to the heart of a defence which had kept clean sheets in the last four games, Michael Barker and James Finnerty coming in for the injured Rob Cornwall and, ruled out because he is on loan from last night’s opponents, Aaron Barry.

City’s last win in the league had been against Bohs on a night in mid-March when a convincing 2-0 win at Turner’s Cross turned out to be a false dawn if ever there one, as Caulfield’s team then slumped to a dismal run of eight league games without a win.

But before the familiar-looking new regime even had a chance to see what they could do about halting that slide, there was a late change to the visitors’ line up after Shane Griffin, who had been named on the team sheet, sustained a knock in the warm-up and was replaced just before kick-off at left-back by Garry Comerford.

With Darragh Rainsford up top in place of Graham Cummins until almost the hour mark, City kicked off with a 4-1-4-1 formation which allowed for enough collective pressing and attacking fluidity to see them taking the game to the home side with a promisingly brisk start, Morrissey prominent in driving his team forward in the early stages. And when Bohs did get their passing game going, McCormack was his usual industrious self in supplying added protection in front of the back four.

It might not have taken too long for Bohs to seem to suck the energy out of Cork’s start and begin exerting some sustained pressure of their own but, for all that, it was the visitors who took the lead after 22 minutes, Conor McCarthy meeting James Tilley’s deep free from the right with a well-directed header back across goal and just inside James Talbot’s far post.

At last, there was something for the Rebel Army, well represented by a big travelling contingent, to sing about.

City’s upbeat mood was punctured coming up to half-time, however, as the influential Morrissey limped off to be replaced by Pierce Philips but, despite Bohs having enjoyed the bulk of possession, it was still the Leesiders who held the advantage on the scoreboard going in at the break.

The lively James Tilley threatened to make it two directly after the restart, forcing a one-handed save from Talbot low down at his near post as, to the increasingly audible concern of the locals, City got back on the front foot.

But Bohs soon got into their slick pass and move groove again so that most of the final half an hour was a sustained examination of City’s defensive discipline, character and nerve, with substitute Cummins generally left to plough a lonely furrow upfront except when he was getting into a fiery dispute with Talbot which resulted in yellow cards for both players.

And to be fair to the visitors, for all of the home side’s dominance of the ball, City ‘keeper Mark McNulty was not overly exerted through to the end, as John Cotter’s team brought a turbulent week at the club to a positive close by deservedly holding on for their first league victory in nine outings.

BOHEMIANS:

Talbot, Pender, Barker, Finnerty,Leahy, Levingston, Buckley, Grant, Mandroiu, Devaney, Corcoran.

CORK CITY:

McNulty; Horgan, McCarthy, McLoughlin, Comerford; Phillips, K O’Connor, Buckley, Tilley, Sheppard, Rainsford (Cummins 58)

Referee:

Damien McGrath (Mayo)

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