Report by Graham Cummins for EchoLive.ie
Cork City increased their lead at the top of the First Division to three points after their comfortable victory over Athlone at Turner’s Cross on Friday night.
With title rivals Galway United dropping points after their 2-2 draw against Wexford, Colin Healy’s side were able to capitalise on the Tribesmen’s slip-up.
A hat-trick from Barry Coffey, as well as goals from Cian Coleman, Josh Honohan and Ruairi Keating gave Healy’s side a resounding win over a very poor Athlone team.
City changed from their usual 3-5-2 formation to a 4-3-3. The switch in shape saw the Rebel Army enjoy the majority of possession.
They passed the ball across the back and found joy when one of their midfielders dropped deep to collect possession which allowed Kevin O’Connor and Darragh Crowley to have higher positions up the pitch.
Cian Murphy was the man responsible for leading the line for City and he looked dangerous in the opening stages.
The home side took the lead in the 14th minute when Dylan McGlade slid Coffey through and the midfielder calmly curled the ball beyond the outstretched arm of Vladislav Velikin.
The Turner Cross faithful didn’t have long to wait to celebrate their side doubling their lead when McGlade and Coffey combined again for the latter to score his second goal just two minutes later.
Athlone came to Turner’s Cross with a game plan of trying to frustrate City by getting men behind the ball and showed little ambition during the contest.
It was all too easy for the home side who rarely had to get out of second gear. City were in total control of the tempo of the match.
The switch to 4-3-3 seemed to be a masterstroke from Healy as it allowed McGlade to focus more on his offensive duties. The former Longford Town player was dragging Athlone’s right-back Cian Kelly out of position which allowed space for Murphy to exploit. The City players were not turning down the opportunity to play Murphy in down the wing, and the home side looked very dangerous from the tactic.
The Rebel Army did score their third goal on the stroke of half-time when Coleman superbly hung in the air to head home Matt Healy’s corner.
City started the second half as they finished the first, with Healy again being the supplier from a corner. The Ipswich Town loanee’s ball found the unmarked Honohan at the back post and the defender made no mistake to score in successive league games.
Keating increased City’s lead from the penalty spot soon afterwards. The striker was able to pick himself up from his collision with Velikin to place the ball into the corner of the keeper’s net.
Coffey would have felt he deserved to take the penalty with the midfielder being on a hat-trick but he wasn’t to miss out on getting the match ball when he scored City’s sixth goal.
City were unfortunately unable to keep a clean sheet when Valeri Dolia neatly scored for the visitors deep into injury time.
Referee: Declan Toland