Cork City 1 St Patrick’s Athletic 0: Karl Sheppard’s third goal in three games saw Cork City move up to second in the SSE Airtricity League premier division table after a narrow win over St Pat’s at Turners Cross last night.
It was City’s third win on the spin as they turned in another fine display in front of their home fans and in truth the scoreline flattered St Pat’s as the home side dominated from start to finish and should have won more comfortably.
The three points is all that matter though and with Derry City losing at home to Sligo, it was another good night for John Caulfield’s side as they remain four points behind champions Dundalk.
“All the lads are working hard,” said Caulfield. “They know what’s needed. Nine out of nine is a pleasing week.”
Cork went into the game full of confidence after Monday night’s excellent performance against Shamrock Rovers and they had Kenny Browne returning to the starting XI against his former side in place of Michael Morrissey .
Liam Buckley’s Saints were surprisingly beaten by Bray Wanderers last week and he had to plan without injured top scorer Christy Fagan and suspended ‘keeper Brendan Clarke.
Buckley also dropped Lee Desmond and Graham Kelly as Pat Jennings, Darren Dennehy, Shane McEleney and Dinny Corcoran came into the side.
With Munster and Edinburgh in Pro 12 action in nearby Musgrave Park, the visitors didn’t have the ideal preparation as they were stuck in traffic on the way to the stadium and only arrived 45 minutes before kick-off.
After scoring in the opening two minutes in their last two home games against Finn Harps and Rovers, Buckley knew the home side would be quick out of the blocks again. That meant a more cautious approach from Pat’s and after weathering the early Cork City pressure they began to come more into the game after the opening 15 minutes.
Billy and Darren Dennehy were returning to Turners Cross after their end of season exit and the home support got great pleasure in jeering their former favourites every time the pair touched the ball.
The jeers got even louder when City took the lead in the 25th minute. Garry Buckley won the ball deep inside the Pat’s half and he played in Sheppard on the left edge of the box. Sheppard took the ball in his stride before shooting left footed and with the help of a wicked deflection, the ball evaded Jennings’ reach, nestling in the back of the net.
A confident Sheppard was close to another 8 minutes later when another deflected shot was narrowly over Jennings’ crossbar.
It was all City now and Sean Maguire had a great chance but he couldn’t find the gaping net after Steven Beattie’s miskicked volley flew across goal.
Beattie then shot wide with only Jennings to beat after great work from Maguire and Maguire went close with a header as City dominated proceedings but couldn’t add to their tally .
Sheppard went close ten seconds into the second half when his speculative shot from 40 yards almost caught Jennings by surprise.
With former Saint Greg Bolger pulling the strings and Gearoid Morrissey and Buckley full of energy in midfield, the visitors were being completely overrun as the home side attacked with pace in search of a second goal.
Buckley headed wide from a Sheppard cross before City had legitimate claims for a penalty waved away by referee Derek Tomney after Buckley’s drive struck Darren Dennehy’s hand not long after the defender was booked for a foul on Beattie.
City needed another goal to put the game to bed and Caulfield introduced Mark O’Sullivan for the final 15 minutes in place of Maguire. The second goal never materialised and there were a few nervy moments as Pat’s began to exert pressure but the home side claimed a third win in a week.
McNulty, Dunleavy, Bennett, Browne, O’Connor, Beattie (D Morrissey 81), Bolger, Buckley, G Morrissey, Sheppard (Healy 90), Maguire (O’Sullivan 75).
Jennings, Barker, Hoare, D Dennehy, Bermingham, Byrne (Treacy 62), McEleney (Kelly 75), Cawley, Timlin, B Dennehy, Corcoran (McGrath 62).
D Tomney (Dublin)
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