By Graham Cummins for EchoLive.ie | Photo by Peadar O’Sullivan
Cork City failed to regain the top spot in the First Division after conceding a late equaliser against Longford Town at Bishopgate on Saturday night.
City had gone in front through a wonder goal from Cian Baragary but they were unable to hold onto the lead, and Karl Chambers’ header five minutes from time gave the hosts a deserving point.
Despite being ahead for most of the contest, Colin Healy can have few complaints about the result with Longford being the better side throughout the match.
The hosts started on the front foot with Ryan Graydon looking promising early on. The Longford player’s trickery was causing City issues in the opening stages. Gary Cronin’s side registered several crosses into City’s penalty area, which the visiting defenders were able to deal with.
City found their feet in the game by taking a more direct approach. Strikers Cian Murphy and Mark O’Mahony were doing well with the service they were being given and the latter might have felt he could have done better from a Kieran Coates pullback but he failed to make a proper connection with the ball.
Sam Verdon almost had his side ahead but saw his effort come back off the post much to the delight of City keeper David Harrington, who appeared to have judged that the ball was travelling wide of the goal.
City took the lead in the 16th minute. Bargary played the ball to Kevin O’Connor at the edge of the penalty area from a City corner, who returned the pass to the Tipperary native, and the City attacker sent a curling effort beyond the outstretched arm of Luke Dennison.
The goal didn’t dishearten Longford. Cristian Magerusan grew into the game and was creating problems with the positions he was receiving the ball in. The Longford striker was confident in possession and drove at the City defence and tried his luck on a few occasions without ever really testing Harrington.
City’s lead remained intact 11 minutes before halftime thanks to Ally Gilchrist. Longford capitalised on some sloppy play from the City defence that led to Verdon getting a golden opportunity. However, the striker was denied after the ball hit the back of Jonas Hakkenin, and with the rebound falling kindly to Magerusan, his effort was excellently blocked by the outstretched leg of Gilchrist.
Unfortunately, for the defender and City, that was to be his last action in the game as he was forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring issue as a result of that block.
City defended deep for the rest of the half as they tried to readjust to the loss of Gilchrist. They weren’t overly concerned with adding to their lead before the interval and it was Longford who looked the most threatening as the half came to a close without finding joy.
There was a slow tempo to the game at the start of the second half. City were happy to allow Longford to have possession in unthreatening areas. Cronin’s side were slow in their build-up play and rarely disrupted City’s defensive shape.
Magerusan should have done better just before the hour mark. The forward found himself on the end of a superb cross into the box, but fluffed his opportunity. Magerusan might use the excuse of Coates’ presence as the reason for his poor effort but the striker should have levelled the scoreline.
The City goal was living a charmed life when Verdon was denied by a goal-line clearance. The Longford player rose highest in the City area, but after seeing his effort go beyond Harrington, Honohan was on hand to prevent Verdon’s header.
Matt Srbely was impressive on a rare start for City. The Canadian was positive in his play and his through ball almost led to O’Mahony getting his first senior goal for the club. However, the 17-year-old was denied by a timely interception by Dennison.
The Longford keeper was in action again soon afterwards, this time denying Bargary. The City goalscorer danced his way through the Longford defence before getting his strike off which Dennison was equal to.
Longford were level with five minutes remaining when Cambers got on the end of an inswinging corner and headed the ball back across the City goal.
Referee: Oliver Moran.