St Patrick’s Athletic moved closer to leaders Sligo Rovers in the Airtricity Premier League of Ireland title race and shattered Cork City’s 12 game unbeaten run thanks to Christy Fagan’s clinical 68th minute finish at Turner’s Cross last night, keeping the Saints’ hopes of a first league title since 1999 just about alive.
While seven draws from the past eight games have left a continuously exasperating City in eighth place, they were still proving very difficult to beat, managing to remain unbeaten since mid-April.
However, frustrations are beginning to develop now as they again failed to pick up a win. Just four have been garnered in 20 games, a figure that will be leaving many on Leeside both anxious and annoyed.
In a very dull game, this was, for long spells, a jagged display from the Saints. The hangover from the chastening 5-0 aggregate defeat to German giants Hannover, perhaps, setting in as the return to the more humble settings of the domestic league took precedent again.
Three second-half bookings, each for cynical challenges in midfield, was, perhaps, evidence of the tiredness experienced by Liam Buckley’s men. But when push came to shove, and someone needed to stand up and be counted, Fagan produced a clinical finish that keeps their slim hopes of catching Sligo Rovers alive after Darren Meenan found him with a nice cross from the right.
They seldom threatened City keeper Mark McNulty in the first-half, Fagan’s 40th minute misdirected header in a dull opening period their best attempt at breaking the deadlock up until the opener.
Losing Christopher Forrester, the thrilling flair player who has lit up their campaign to date, at the break, was a major blow too. Yet, on a night where they were far from their best, Fagan’s opportunistic punt towards the bottom left corner from 12 with just over 20 minutes to go was always going to be decisive.
In saying that, they had to be partially thankful that the home side continued to be plagued by profligacy, as several chances went a begging once again.
The free-scoring of Vinny Sullivan, a player who has always been known as a creator rather than a finisher during his career, has dried up since the start of the season and they really seem to be missing Tadhg Purcell since his departure to Port Vale.
A visibly frustrated Davin O’Neill was afforded the best chances for the home side once again as their irritation builds, the wait for a home win continuing for another week.
Regardless of the draws which have held them back, May 18 was the last time they won on their own patch, improvements must be sought in the next fortnight if they’re to have anything to play for in the final two months of the campaign.
CORK CITY: McNulty; Dunleavy, K Murray, D Murray, Murphy; Turner (Lenihan 73), Duggan, Morrissey, D Horgan; Sullivan, O’Neill (Kenny 83).
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke; O’Brien, Browne, Kenna, Bermingham; Flood (Meenan 64), Chambers, Forrester (Coombes ht), Bolger, O’Connor; Fagan (Faherty 89).
Referee: T Connolly (Dublin).
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