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Two goals up with only nine minutes to go, Derry City failed to close out their first league win at Turner’s Cross since 2000 as Cork City came back from two goals down to salvage a point on Friday evening.
Vinny Sullivan and Shane Duggan scored in the 81st and 85th minute to maintain the home side’s unbeaten run but ten-man Derry will feel like they left the full three points behind them.
Even without Mark Farren, the Candystripes looked the better oiled outfit up front as Rory Patterson and Owen Morrison combined to brilliant effect. That was until the dismissal of Stewart Greacen on 60 minutes though, for a second yellow card offence, and from then on the home team went on to dominate, eventually finding their just reward.
It took only nine minutes for Derry to break the deadlock and dent the optimism of the home support, however. Morrison provided a lovely ball to Northern Ireland international Patterson, who steadied before lofting a beautiful effort out of Mark McNulty’s reach and into the net.
Cork really struggled to get to grips early on, the unusual 4-5-1 system failing to pay dividends as Sullivan was left quite isolated up top. Even with five across the middle, Daryl Horgan in a more central role as the attacking-link with Sullivan, they struggled to get on top against the Candystripes’ four.
Things got a whole lot worse for the home team, and indeed better for the travellers, on 22 when the strikeforce combined once again to double the advantage. Morrison nabbed his second assist as he picked out Patterson in space and the striker turned before curling a sumptuous strike around McNulty and in at the far bottom corner.
The Leesiders’ biggest attacking threat was Ian Turner on the right wing but even though he made some cute breaks past the Derry defence, his final ball and shooting left a lot to be desired on more than one occasion. Eventually, they went back to the more usual 4-4-2 but up until the break there wasn’t too much for Candystripes stopper Gerard Doherty to deal with.
Of course the defence in front of him, manned superbly by Ryan McBride, had much to do with that but there was little arguing that Cork were well off the pace before the break.
Yet nearing the hour mark the home team were given the glimmer of hope which eventually led to a point. Stewart Greacen, rightly booked in the first half, received his second yellow for a shove on Tadhg Purcell but the travelling support were right to be aggrieved by the decision as it didn’t warrant a card, nevermind a dismissal.
Immediately Eddie McCallion was brought on for Morrison as Derry looked to keep hold of their two-goal advantage, but Cork finally showed the fighting spirit which had them unbeaten in seven prior to this game.
On 73, they finally started to produce clear-cut chances. Purcell’s strike was parried by Doherty into the path of Turner but his finish was poor and the keeper pounced on the rebound, while Daryl Horgan, perhaps not as effective as usual, curled one narrowly wide two minutes later.
They pulled one back through Vinny Sullivan on 81 though, following a knock-back from Tadhg Purcell and that strike not only halved the deficit but also ignited a fiery bombardment.
Within four minutes later they were on level terms as Kalen Spillane’s swipe across goal fell kindly to Duggan and the midfielder pounced to send the Cork fans home satisfied with the comeback.
Colin Healy went closest to finding a winner in injury time when Doherty punched his free-kick over the bar.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Colin Healy, Gavin Kavanagh (Stephen Kenny 71), Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Ian Turner, Gearoid Morrissey (Neal Horgan 82), Shane Duggan, Daryl Horgan, Davin O’Neill (Tadhg Purcell 54); Vinny Sullivan.
Subs not used: Kevin Burns, Andy O’Connell, Kevin Murray, Cathal Lordan.
Booked: Healy (31), Kenny (90+2).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Stewart Greacen, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey; David McDaid, Ruaidhri Higgins, Patrick McEleney, Stephen McLaughlin; Owen Morrison (Eddie McCallion 62), Rory Patterson.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Ryan Curran, Michael Barr, Barry McNamee, Tony McNamee, Matthew Henry.
Booked: Greacen (15), Patterson (36), Doherty (76), P McEleney (90), McDaid (90+2).
Sent off: Greacen (60).
Referee: Dave McKeon (Dublin).
Official attendance: 2,775.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Rory Patterson (Derry City).