Phillip Morrissey reports from Turners Cross
Cork City remain stretched their winless run to eight matches as they failed to overcome bottom side, Finn Harps, at Turners Cross. This result does nothing to help either side in their attempts to get away from the relegation zone.
The home side did manage to score their first goal in four games but were unable to secure what would have been only their second home win of the season. This means back to back draws for the Donegal outfit after their concession of a penalty away to Sligo on Friday. Improved performances in both games can provide a glimmer of hope for them, however.
It was the home team who started on the front foot. A throw-in on the right-hand side was played into Sheppard who saw his cross was half-cleared to Kevin O’ Connor, who then had time to steady himself before dragging his shot wide. Minutes later, City should have been in front. A long ball from Mark McNulty was flicked on by Graham Cummins to Sheppard in open territory in front of the goal, however, his effort went wide of the mark. If possible, it seemed he had too much time to choose his options. He was cursing himself a few minutes later when after a Colm Horgan cross had been flicked on, he was unable to adjust in time and put it past the post.
The away side were undaunted though. Caolan McAleer and Nathan Boyle constantly buzzed around the City defenders whenever they tried to come out with the ball. This often resulted in the ball being hit long or being returned back to where it came from. Garry Buckley was extremely fortunate to not concede a penalty when he twice caught hold of his man just outside the area. Mark Russell clipped the ball over the wall but onto the top of the net. The warnings continued as Sean Boyd put his header straight at McNulty after an excellent cross by Jacob Borg.
The rhythm of the game was now beginning to become fragmented. Both sides were guilty of slack passing and loose play. Neither were truly able to get the ball down and provide concerted pressure. Few chances of note arrived apart from a few snatched efforts from distance. The sense of frustration began to rise.
Then just before half-time, City sparked into life with two great chances. Peter Burke was forced into action to tip over a header from Cummins which threatened to dip into his left-hand corner. Then Sheppard was guilty of failing to convert the rebound after another save from Cummins. A period of stagnant interplay at the back was interrupted by the half-time whistle. Neither side could truly claim to be at their best.
City begun the second-half playing towards the Shed End and within minutes they had their reward. Burke managed to miscue a clearance to the feet of Graham Cummins. Just before he managed to shoot, he was taken down by Jabob Borg. Kevin O’ Connor stepped up and curled a beautiful free-kick into the top corner. Much to the delight of the home crowd where goals have been a rare commodity this season. City began to string a couple of passes together and suddenly Harps’ defenders were beginning to have to work hard to prevent any further damage. A few half-chances came and went in this period.
The away side came back though. McAleer is almost played through but the ball from Boyle is overhit, a lovely free-kick from the latter is floated in and Niall Logue is only able to plant a header at McNulty. Finally, great interplay sees Mark Gallagher send over a cross which beats everyone, but Borg strikes the post instead.
It was perhaps not a surprise when the visitors got back on level terms. Substitute Tony McNamee played a clever short corner, the ball scrambled around the area and Keith Cowan smashed it into the net. A crucial goal from the captain.
A number of changes were made in order to try and get back in front. They huffed and puffed but never really looked like achieving it. Despite four minutes being added on at the end. The final whistle was greeted by a smattering of boos from the 1,612 spectators present. Caulfield remains a man under increasing pressure.
It gets no easier for his side on Friday night. They make the trip to Dalymount to play a confident Bohemians side. Finn Harps have an opportunity to gain points on those above them when hosting U.C.D
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Kevin O'Connor (Daire O’ Connor), Sean McLoughlin, Conor McCarthy, Colm Horgan (Alan Bennett), Shane Griffin; Garry Buckley, Pierce Phillips (Darragh Rainsford), Karl Sheppard, James Tilley; Graham Cummins.
Subs not used: Darragh Crowley, Gary Boylan, Tadhg Ryan, Dan Smith.
Booked: Karl Sheppard
Finn Harps: Peter Burke; Sam Todd, Niall Logue, Michael Gallagher, Mark Coyle, Keith Cowan, Jacob Borg (Tony McNamee); Mark Russell, Caolan McAleer (Raffaele Cretaro); Nathan Boyle (Harry Ascroft), Sean Boyd.
Subs not used: Mikey Place, Stephen Doherty, Joe Boyle, Liam Walsh.
Booked: Michael Gallagher
Referee: Robert Hennessy
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Caolan McAleer