By Denis Hurley for EchoLive.ie
In front of 2,249 at Turner’s Cross, the Rebel Army were on top throughout against the side which had beaten them with two late goals last month. Having beaten Bohemians 1-0 in Cotter’s first game since taking over, this marked the first time this season that City have registered two straight clean sheets in the league.
City began brightly, keeping the ball on the ground where they could but not averse to showing pragmatism when needed. Early on, James Tilley had a half-chance, with Liam Scales getting in a good block, and only four minutes had elapsed when the opening goal came.
After Dáire O’Connor was fouled on the right, Tilley curled in a free kick, with the ball helped on by Seán McLoughlin and Conor McCarthy, allowing captain Karl Sheppard to notch his first goal of the season from close range.
City continued to show the greater initiative and McCarthy was unlucky to have an effort deflected over while Garry Comerford’s cross from the left was met by Tilley but he couldn’t trouble Kearns.
However, with the margin just a goal, City couldn’t rest easy. Just before the half-hour, sloppy defensive play by the hosts was nearly punished as O’Neill intercepted and fed Yoyo Mahdy, but his 20-yard shot curled wide. Not long after that, the Students went closer again, as a corner gave Jason McClelland a chance, Conor McCormack having to block on the line before Mahdy shot over.
As the half ended, City had recovered their attacking impetus and twice they nearly found a second. First, a Dáire O’Connor corner was headed back across goal by Cummins with McLoughlin sending the ball just over and then O’Connor played a nice one-two with Sheppard but pulled a low shot wide.
On the resumption, UCD threatened once more, with Conor Davis firing over, and six minutes into the second half they really should have equalised. From an O’Neill free kick, Scales headed the ball into the danger zone and his defensive partner Josh Collins met it on the half-volley but it rebounded off the crossbar.
City made the most of that let-off as they doubled the lead two minutes later with a well-worked goal from open play, Kevin O’Connor’s good cross from the left met by Cummins at the near post. It was their first strike from open play since the win away to Finn Harps in early March.
Having just avoided conceding a leveller, to increase their advantage had a relaxing effect on City while delivering a blow to UCD’s hopes and there was a sense that the outcome had been decided. Tilley and Sheppard both had shots from distance, Kearns saving the first while the second whistled past the post, though UCD didn’t throw in the towel either and Davis had a deflected shot which was just wide.
It was the only real opportunity though and City were able to see the game out in relative comfort, Kevin O’Connor nearly getting a third at the death only to be denied by Kearns’ legs.
Referee: Tomás Connolly.