Cork City 5-2 Longford Town
Cork City gave their fading SSE Airtricity League title hopes a boost by recording a comprehensive 5-2 win over Longford Town at Turner's Cross.
The Leesiders have been a little goal shy in recent league games but found their scoring boots in style courtesy of goals from Alan Bennett, Sean Maguire (2) and Karl Sheppard (2). Peter McGlynn netted two for the Midlanders in reply.
Bennett and Maguire, who was called up to the Ireland U21 squad today, scored early in the first half to get Cork off to a bright start, before the pint-sized striker added a third for City from the penalty spot shortly before the half-hour mark.
The visitors pulled one back in the final moments of the first half thanks to McGlynn but Sheppard finished a fine team move to end any possibility of a comeback early in the second half.
McGlynn claimed his second with just three minute remaining in the game while Sheppard secured his brace as the match ticked into added time.
Cork City made one change from the side that won the FAI Cup encounter between the two teams last weekend, with Gavan Holohan getting the nod ahead of Garry Buckley. The latter dropped to the bench.
Alan Mathews, previously in charge at Turner's Cross, was greeted by warm applause before kick-off and made three changes, bringing in Ryan Coulter, Peter McGlynn and Kealon Dillon for Paul Skinner, Don Cowan and Gaius Makouta.
The hosts, in search of their first win in the SSE Airtricity League since 10 July, looked dangerous early on and moved ahead with just six minutes on the clock.
The SSE Airtricity League table after wins tonight for Cork City, Bohs, Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk pic.twitter.com/8GQp9P6JxU— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) August 26, 2016
From the game's first corner, Kevin O'Connor's set piece was headed home by Bennett, who held off his marker to power the ball beyond Coulter's reach from just outside the six-yard box.
A decent attempt from Dooley was superbly blocked by Yann Mvita Nkelu a minute later before Maguire guided another header straight at the defender moments later.
With Mathews already anxious on the sidelines, City piled through the Town defence once again on 13 minutes.
City's O'Connor, also an Ireland U21 call-up, won possession in midfield, allowing Dooley to race free. The winger played a superb ball through to Maguire, who took a fine touch before firing the ball to the back of the net.
Having already conceded an astonishing 13 goals to Cork City this season before the encounter gone under way, Longford needed to settle and stem the flow, and finally managed an attempt on target with a snap shot from the boot of Keaton Dillon in the 18th minute.
Sheppard might have knocked a cross from Maguire to the back of the net from close range on 22 minutes, but couldn’t keep his final effort down. Eddie Dsane, meanwhile, turned Bennett inside out before landing a weak shot into McNulty’s arms at the other end.
The scoring continued minutes later though as another corner kick saw Bennett pushed over in the Longford box by McGlynn, and referee Paul McLaughlin had little hesitation in whistling for a spot kick.
Maguire placed the ball, aimed low and hard to Coulter's right and nailed his second of the evening, sending the home side three clear in the process.
Despite their advantage, Caulfield's men continued to push forward with chances for Holohan, Bennett and Dooley before the end of the first half.
However, Longford would give themselves a short life line in added time - a wonderful run from Dsane fed McGlynn, whose fine long-range effort nestled into the back of the McNulty's net.
Well adrift at the bottom of the league standings, if Mathews' squad had any hope of an unlikely comeback, it was ended by a fourth goal early in the second half.
Dooley and Maguire combined wonderfully for the latter to send a looping ball into the path of the in-rushing Sheppard. The attacker took a touch before blasting his final effort under Coulter.
Cork City manager John Caulfield says his team "are right in it" after their 5-2 victory over Longford Town https://t.co/Ivqy2yrOlT— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) August 26, 2016
The Kildare man might have doubled his tally on 55 minutes but badly missed his attempted side-foot, and later headed wide from another O'Connor free kick to maintain pressure.
Last-ditch defending from Coulter and Powell kept Bennett and then Sheppard at bay on 65 minutes before substitute Chiedozie Ogbene - who scored his first senior goal against Town last weekend - slapped the ball off the post having dribbled his way superbly into the box.
McGlynn claimed his second of the night on the back of poor defending with three minutes remaining and a well-taken finish. There was still time for another surging run from Ogbene though, and this time he found Sheppard in the centre of the box.
On this occasion, the forward made no mistake and blasted his effort home to make it 5-2 on the night.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Alan Bennett, Kenny Browne (Dave Mulcahy '58), Kevin O'Connor; Greg Bolger; Karl Sheppard, Gavan Holohan, Gearóid Morrissey (Colin Healy '62), Stephen Dooley (Chiedozie Ogbene '79); Sean Maguire.
Substitutes: Matthew Connor, Michael McSweeney, Mark O'Sullivan, Garry Buckley.
Longford Town: Ryan Coulter; Jamie Mulhall, Yann Mvita Nkelu (Pat Flynn '71), Rhys Gorman, Conor Powell; Peter McGlynn, Philip Gannon (Gaius Makouta '77), Kevin O'Connor (Mark Hughes '62), Kealon Dillon, Kaleem Simon; Eddie Dsane.
Substitutes: Paul Skinner, Tristan Noack-Hoffman, Karl Chambers, Cian Fay.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin