Report by Paul Buttner for EchoLive.ie | Photo: Peadar O'Sullivan
Cork City drew a blank for the second week running as they had to settle for a point against Longford Town at Bishopsgate.
Longford shaded the chances in a dour contest on a bitterly cold evening in the midlands as the result saw City drop to third place in the First Division table. Cork did finish strongly, having a goal disallowed late on before Barry Coffey almost snatched the win in stoppage time but for the save of the game from Luke Dennison.
Longford, in action for the first time this season having had their opening game with Cobh Ramblers postponed due to storm Eunice and then being the idle side in the nine-team division last week, donned their away kit of yellow and blue in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The Midlanders displayed the Ukrainian flag on their scoreboard and will also donate half the gate receipts to the Red Cross.
Looking to bounce back from last week’s reversal to Galway United before almost 5,000 at Turner’s Cross, City were without mercurial midfielder Dylan McGlade, who retired injured early on in that game, while Gordon Walker, George Heaven and Alec Byrne also missed out.
Cork assistant manager Richie Holland made two changes from last week’s starting XI with Matt Srbely and Kieran Coates coming in for Jonas Hakkinen and McGlade. Under new manager Gary Cronin, Longford started seven fresh signings for their first outing of the campaign.
Though Cork started on the front foot with Cian Murphy lively on the left flank early on, it was Longford who had the first shot in anger from their first attack on four minutes.
Ryan Graydon found a pocket of space to tee up Eric Molloy arriving on the left, but his drive lacked the venom to trouble David Harrington. The home side saw a good deal of the ball for a period as Cork struggled to regain their early initiative, frustration showing as City midfielder Aaron Bolger received the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Aaron Robinson on 18 minutes.
City worked hard to get into the game, though, with Cian Bargary showing a bit of guile on the right flank just past the 20-minute mark, if his delivery was poor and never troubled the Town defence. It nonetheless lifted City as they soon enjoyed their first spell of pressure in the match, twice coming close to scoring in quick succession courtesy of some poor defending.
Town failed to clear Bargary’s 23rd-minute free-kick into their area after Ruairi Keating was upended by Mick McDonnell. Keating then saw his downward header pushed away at full stretch by Dennison.
A minute later Town again failed to clear their lines from a throw-in on the stand side. Bolger found Keating in the area with the striker taking a fine controlling touch to get turned and rifle just wide.
A bright start to the second half from Longford brought them their first real chances of the game.
Skipper Sam Verdon looped a header from Dean McMenamy’s free wide four minutes in. Scarcely a minute later, frantic defending prevented City from falling behind.
Graydon broke on the right to cross with McMenamy’s drive brilliantly deflected over the top by the retreating Coates. With Longford dominating since the restart, Cork had another let-off on the hour mark.
Darren Craven’s drive was blocked. But it sat up invitingly for Aaron Robinson whose left-foot volley from the edge of the area whizzed past Harrington’s righthand post. Similarly, five minutes later Graydon shot off target as he failed to avail of a weak clearance by Coates from McMenamy’s cross as Town maintained the pressure.
City’s first threat of the second half didn’t materialise until the 67th minute when Matt Srbely met a cross which he headed wide.
Loose defending back at the other end seven minutes later presented Longford with yet another chance they wasted, Graydon bouncing a volley off target following a scramble in the area.
Cork rallied late on and did have the ball in the Longford net on 85 minutes. Teenager Mark O’Mahony’s first involvement off the bench set up Murphy in the area to turn and shoot to the net. But an assistant’s flag had already been raised and it was disallowed for offside.
Cork then almost gave their small band of travelling fans some cheer a minute into stoppage time. Substitute Matt Healy’s floated free kick was met by Coffey whose header was acrobatically tipped over by Dennison.
Referee: Michael Connolly.[event_performance 116413]