Philip Morrissey reports from Turner's Cross
Both Cork City and Sligo Rovers remain just outside the relegation play-off spot in the Premier Division after this evening’s draw at Turners Cross. Neither side will be satisfied with dropping more points, but Sligo will be glad to return home with something.
The home side have now gone six games without a win and remain with only one win at home all season. The ‘Bit O’ Red’ have seen an upturn in results recently but continue to struggle on the road. It was perhaps inevitable that a draw would be the outcome.
An injury to Gearoid Morrissey had seen his place taken by Garry Comerford after his suspension was complete. Karl Sheppard returned from injury to take the spot of Darragh Crowley. Sligo meanwhile, had seen Sam Warde, Kris Twardek and Liam Kerrigan come into the side ahead of Jack Keaney, Daryl Fordyce and Romeo Parkes. All three had impressed upon introduction away to St. Pats.
Both John Dunleavy and Ronan Coughlan were making their return to Turners Cross and it was the former striker who had the first opportunity of the game. He managed to only fire over after being found by Twardek. Conor McCarthy and Shane Griffin both swung in dangerous crosses at the other end, but the Sligo defence were able to snuff out any potential threat. Comerford found himself in open space in midfield before clipping in a great pass to Sheppard. He connected with more shoulder than head and Mitchell Beeney was able to collect with ease.
Both sides were unable to really construct a sustained period of possession. Hence, a lack of a real clear-cut opportunity. When one came around, the away side should really have hit the front. Twardek did brilliantly to beat his man and swing over a cross. Ronan Coughlan was unmarked, but his header lacked power and was straight at McNulty. James Tilley was beginning to make things happen at the other end but found himself twice in the wars in a matter of minutes. The second of these saw him taken down by Niall Morahan. From the resulting free-kick, Cummins flicked a header just over.
McCormack found himself in the book for a high boot before another City chance. Sheppard advanced down the right flank, before passing inside to McCormack. His low cross was well placed but Tilley slipped at the most inopportune time. At the other end, Twardek caused a moment of panic before his cross was collected by McNulty. There was one more chance as Cummins’ header is saved by Beeney.
Sligo were forced into a change just after half-time as Dante Leverock seemed to pull up after a clearance. John Russell came on in his place. Despite this, the away side begun on the front foot. A rare chance for Sheppard aside, City were struggling to gain a foothold. Substitute Russell slit the City defence with a great ball, but no-one was awake to the opportunity to take advantage of it. It showed the vulnerability of the home-side.
The crowd were in arms when Garry Buckley was body-checked when he sensed the opportunity to drive forward into space. Lewis Banks was happy enough to take the booking. Buckley provided a rare moment of brightness when he swept a cross-field ball out to Griffin. This was amid a period of meandering head tennis. He later delayed a shooting chance to pass it out to Daire O’ Connor. He advanced before unleashing a low shot. It struck the side netting rather than the bottom corner though. Sligo were not completely under the cosh though. Ronan Coughlan did well to beat Sean McLoughlin and head towards the goal. His low shot from a tight angle hit the post though.
A number of substitutions by John Caulfield sought to freshen events up. O’ Connor and Darragh Crowley combined to free up the former by the corner flag. His cross was met by Karl Sheppard but Beeney saved again. Darragh Rainsford then picked up a pass from Griffin with an excellent touch. The keeper excelled yet again by saving the effort with his face. The home side tried desperately to get the lead goal in the closing stages. O’ Connor followed up from a corner to pick out Buckley at the back post. It went wide, however.
As the final whistle went, one could sense the feeling of frustration in the crowd. Sligo get their chance to pull away from the drop zone when they host bottom side, Finn Harps. Cork City meanwhile face the long trip to Derry City.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Sean McLoughlin, Conor McCarthy, Shane Griffin, Garry Comerford (Daire O’ Connor), Dan Casey; Conor McCormack, Garry Buckley; Graham Cummins (Darragh Crowley), Karl Sheppard, James Tilley (Darragh Rainsford).
Subs not used: Kevin O'Connor, Pierce Phillips, Tadhg Ryan, Dan Smith.
Booked: Conor McCormack
Sligo Rovers: Mitchell Beeney; John Mahon, Dante Leverock (John Russell), John Dunleavy, Lewis Banks; Liam Kerrigan (Jack Keaney), David Cawley, Niall Morahan, Sam Warde; Rónán Coughlan, Kris Twardek (Brian Morley).
Subs not used: Edward McGinty, Regan Donelon, Luke McNicholas,
Booked: Lewis Banks, John Mahon
Referee: Ray Matthews
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Kris Twardek (Sligo Rovers)OUT