Cork City 1-1 Wexford Youths
A late goal from Mark O’Sullivan saw Cork City scramble a 1-1 draw with Wexford Youths in the Airtricity League Premier Division at Turner’s Cross.
A first-half goal from Eric Molloy coupled with a five-star performance from club captain and goalkeeper Graham Doyle saw the visitors on track for a stunning away victory on Leeside for a long spell.
However, City piled pressure on their opponents in the second half but watched in frustration as numerous chances went astray in front of a crowd of 2,793 until substitute O’Sullivan got his head to a pinpoint cross just four minutes from time.
John Caulfield made two changes to the starting XI that drew with Sligo Rovers last time out with Greg Bolger returning from suspension and Garry Buckley starting his first League game of the season. Colin Healy and Steven Beattie were the two to drop to the bench.
Keegan, for his part, introduced Chris Kenny to the Wexford side that claimed the club’s first ever win in the Airtricity League Premier Division on their previous outing with Danny Ledwith named amongst the substitutes.
City, as one of the clubs tipped for a League challenge, were favourites to take all three points from the fixture. However, it was the visitors that set the pace early on with early efforts on goal from Molloy, Aidan Friel and Gary Delaney.
Former Leesider Danny Furlong combined well with strike partner Paul Murphy up front and it came as no real surprise when Youths went ahead on 15 minutes.
The score came from a set piece as Friel’s corner was met by the head of Gary Delaney. Molloy was then on hand to pick up the loose rebound and hit the back of the Cork net with the help of a deflection.
The hosts hadn’t even registered an attempt on goal at that stage of the contest and Sean Maguire was the first to try his hand when he curled an effort just wide from inside the box two minutes later.
Karl Sheppard, playing out on the right wing, headed inches wide from Kevin O’Connor’s corner kick on 21 minutes before more good play from the ex-Shamrock Rovers man seemed to set Stephen Dooley clear five minutes later. The winger, however, failed to gain control of the ball and the chance slipped from his grasp.
The Cup finalists were reduced to long-range attempts on goal – particularly from the right foot of Gearóid Morrissey – for the remainder of the opening half as Youths defended stoutly in numbers and broke quickly and with intent on a number of occasions.
There would be no second goal before the half-time whistle, however, and City would also lose Kevin O’Connor to an ankle injury that was sustained when his friend Craig McCabe clattered into him on 38 minutes. The U21 Ireland international tried to play on initially but was replaced by Steven Beattie shortly afterwards.
Buckley had a chance to get City back on level terms five minutes into the second half after he was fouled just outside the Wexford box. The midfielder drifted away from his marker at the back post to connect with Bolger’s set piece but couldn’t direct his free header on target.
The superbly-fit Youths side were more than competing with their counterparts across the pitch at this stage but the next chance also went the home team’s way. On-loan Celtic starlet Eoghan O’Connell blazed a direct free kick just wide of Graham Doyle’s left-hand post after Bolger was fouled at the edge of the box.
Caulfield’s men seemed to come alive at last on 65 minutes after Doyle notched up an excellent save from a Buckley header. The Youths keeper then saved a second header from substitute Ian Turner four minutes later before guiding an effort from Sheppard on to the crossbar shortly afterwards.
Ryan Delaney was next to be counted as a defensive hero for the visitors when he blocked a great chance for Turner with his chest before clearing the danger. Maguire knocked a ball from Turner wide a minute later but, try as they might, there seemed no way through the black and pink rearguard.
Cork’s goal, when it arrived, came from the head of O’Sullivan who fired a header beyond the reach of Doyle from Sheppard’s ball inside from the left wing.
Having pegged Youths back, a long-range effort from Buckley followed by another chance for Maguire might have snatched an unlikely win deep in added time.
Cork City FC: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Eoghan O’Connell, Kenny Browne, Kevin O’Connor (Steven Beattie ’45); Greg Bolger; Karl Sheppard, Gearóid Morrissey (Mark O’Sullivan ’70), Garry Buckley, Stephen Dooley (Ian Turner ’60); Sean Maguire.
Substitutes: Colin Healy, Gavan Holohan, Danny Morrissey, Alan Smith.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Craig McCabe, Gary Delaney, Stephen Last, Ryan Delaney (Andy Mulligan ’82); Aidan Friel, Lee Grace, Chris Kenny, Eric Molloy (Danny Ledwith ’90); Danny Furlong, Paul Murphy (Conor O’Keeffe ’90).
Substitutes: John Peare, Conor English, Conor Whittle, Matt Connor.
Referee: Tomás Connolly