Bray Wanderers 0, Cork City 0
Cork boss John Caulfield has all but conceded the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title to Dundalk.
But the Leesiders are still targeting the runners-up spot despite a sun-kissed Carlisle Grounds witnessing its first top-flight scoreless draw since April 2014 last Saturday.
“Dundalk have set the bar. They’ve set it higher than last year for everyone else to catch them,” said Caulfield.
“We’re better than we were last year. There’s no doubt that we’ve improved. The challenge for next season is for teams to match them.
"For us, getting the top three is important. It’s in our own control to finish second. We’re closer to Europe. We just need a few more wins to make sure we have it. ”
City nearly took all three points in the 88th minute when Peter Cherrie parried Mark O’Sullivan’s low cross-shot.
The loose ball fell to Karl Sheppard eight yards out, but the covering Hugh Douglas managed to get a vital touch right on the goal-line to divert the ball over the bar.
Despite that, Caulfield conceded his team were below par in their bid for a third win over the Seagulls this season.
“We just didn’t do enough. We were desperately disappointing in the first half. In the second half, we were much better. I think we cancelled each other out bar the final 10 minutes.
"From an attacking point of view, a lot of our forwards were disappointing. It was poor. Bray are a hard-working team. They got a lot of people behind the ball. It was difficult to break them down.”
In the opening period, goalkeepers Cherrie and Mark McNulty’s only danger was sunburn. The sole opportunity came when Douglas powered over a header off David Cassidy’s free-kick in the 37th minute.
Douglas went close to breaking the deadlock seven minutes into the second period. Picked put by John Sullivan’s pass, the Bray defender evaded Ross Gaynor’s challenge but drove his low shot off the right flank into the side-netting.
In the 58th minute, City finally tested Cherrie, who needed two attempts to smother Gaynor’s low driven free from the edge of the box.
Cork nearly went in front on the hour. O’Sullivan’s chest controlled Sheppard’s cross before hooking his volley narrowly wide.
The draw brought the Wicklow outfit onto 30 points. But manager Mick Cooke doesn’t think that’s enough to ensure safety from the relegation dog-fight.
“The way some of the bottom teams are winning points, maybe 34 or 35 won’t be safe. We’ll keep fighting. And for us, it was a point towards safety.”
Cherrie; Douglas, Cooney, McNally, O’Reilly; Cassidy (Onwubiko 89), McEvoy, John Sullivan, Kelly, Scully; Lyons (McGlynn 76).
McNulty; McSweeney, Murray, Darren Dennehy, Gaynor; O’Connor (O’Flynn 81), Buckley, Beattie (Morrissey 67); Sheppard, Billy Dennehy (Bennett half time); Mark O’Sullivan.
Rob Rogers (Dublin).
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