Cork City are still looking for their first league win since May after they were held to a scoreless draw by relegation threatened Finn Harps in a tight encounter at Finn Park last night. This result means City stay seventh while Harps remain ninth.
After the 4-1 defeat at home to Derry City, Cork were anxious to respond in a positive fashion. And they would have gladly accepted the 4-3 winning scoreline from the thriller when the sides last met in Ballybofey.
New head coach John Cotter was dishing out the instructions from the sidelines for a City side that showed four changes from Friday’s defeat while Harps, seeking back to back wins after a morale boosting victory over Sligo Rovers, had two alterations.
The opening 10 minutes was as calm as the River Finn as both sides sought to settle. And there was little to lift the decibel levels on a soft summer’s evening for the fans in a crowd of around just 700.
Cork conjured up the first chance with a Gearoid Morrisey shot being deflected off Daniel O’Reilly for a corner. Shortly after Gary Boylan needed some attention after a crunching challenge from Harry Ascroft which earned the Australian the first yellow card of the game.
But City gradually got on top, with Conor McCormack becoming increasingly influential in midfield as they enjoyed plenty of possession. Harps finally worried City on 32 minutes when Caolan McAleer crossed from the right side of the box but Mark Russell scuffed his shot in space and the chance was gone.
Almost immediately, Cork swept up the other end and Gary Boylan fired over as the game began to open up. Cork had a half-heated appeal for a penalty promptly dismissed on 42 minutes as Garry Buckley went down in the box and Dan Casey just failed to get a telling connection as the home defence looked suspect in the spell just before the break.
But Harps almost snatched the lead on 53 minutes when Mark Coyle played the ball off to McAleer and his fierce shot whizzed just outside the post. And the Ollie Horgan managed side then enjoyed a decent spell.
However, Cork spurned a good opportunity on the hour when Morrissey found Rainsford but scooped the ball over the target. Both sides struggled to lift their game with errors becoming increasingly common.
Substitute Mark Timlin produced a rare moment of skill for Harps with a cracking drive just wide on 80 minutes while at the other end a long-range Conor McCarthy effort was comfortably saved by Mark McNulty.
A draw was a fair result, and for Harps it enables them to go four points ahead of bottom club UCD, although the students have three games in hand. Next up for City is a visit from third placed Bohs on Friday while Harps travel to Dublin to face UCD in a six-pointer at the bottom of the table.
McGinley; O’Reilly, Logue, Todd; Borg, Ascroft (Timlin, 45 mins), Harkin, Russell; Coyle; McAleer (Place, 85 mins), Boyle.
McNulty; McCarthy, Casey, McLoughlin; Horgan, McCormack, Morrissey, Boylan (Comerford, 67 mins), Hurley; Buckley, Rainsford (Sheppard 83 mins).
Mr. J. McLaughlin (Athlone).