Sligo Rovers 2 Cork City 1
CORK City have been relegated from the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after defeat to Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds on Saturday evening.
The defeat – City’s 10th match without a win – combined with Finn Harps’ victory away to Bohemians means that the Rebel Army are now four points behind the Donegal side with just one league game remaining.
A 74th-minute penalty from former City player Ronan Coughlan proved to be the winner for the Bit o’Red, who move up to fourth place with the victory.
Colin Healy made three changes to the City side from the scoreless draw with Waterford last Saturday. Beineón O’Brien-Whitmarsh, who came on against the Blues, was in for his first start since before the spring lockdown, while Ronan Hurley and Kit Elliott also came into the side as Dylan McGlade, Cory Galvin and Deshane Dalling missed out.
Perhaps in a portent of things to come, the game had only just kicked off when Elliott was asked by referee Robert Hennessy to leave the pitch and remove the black undershorts he was wearing, forbidden as they didn’t match City’s white shorts.
While Sligo had the first goal attempt, with Ryan DeVries’ effort saved by Liam Bossin, City had a great opportunity to go ahead in the eighth minute as Alec Byrne’s long-range shot was blocked in the area by Sligo defender John Mahon – with his hand, in the view of referee Robert Hennessy.
Elliott had scored from the spot in City’s 3-0 home win over Sligo in August and stepped up again but Ed McGinty dived to his right and diverted the ball out for a corner.
Insult was added to injury two minutes later as Sligo led. There didn’t appear to be much danger when McGinty took a free kick just outside his own area but the goalkeeper’s delivery wasn’t dealt with and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe was able to slip in behind the City defence and slot the ball past Bossin.
City sought to respond positively and did show flashes of good play. On 14 minutes, Byrne sent a ball wide to Henry Ochieng, who did well to get a cross in but there was nobody there to meet it, while Elliott and O’Brien-Whitmarsh had half-chances which didn’t offer huge threat.
Sligo were relatively comfortable with their lead, with captain Will Seymore and Niall Morahan competing well in midfield, though they didn’t create too many chances to double their advantage. One such instance was on the half-hour as former City men Garry Buckley – playing in defence – and Coughlan combined to give Ogedi-Uzokwe another sight of goal but Bossin saved.
Free kicks for City taken by Kevin O’Connor and Gearóid Morrissey came to nought, hitting the wall and taken by McGinty respectively, while Byrne shot well over after doing well to force a turnover 30 yards out. Coming up to half-time, Sligo’s Jesse Devers had an effort blocked by Joseph Olowu.
City brought on Cian Bargary for the second half as they moved to a 4-3-3 and they did offer more in the way of attacking endeavour. As the hour-mark approached, Coleman’s shot from outside the area drew a good block by Regan Donelon and O’Brien-Whitmarsh’s follow-up was deflected out by Mahon for a corner.
The visitors continued to press and they were rewarded on 64. When a free kick was won on the left of the area, O’Connor and sub Dylan McGlade, only just on, stood over the ball and McGlade’s low in-swinging effort bypassed everyone and ended up in the net.
With their tails up, City pushed for a lead goal and, in quick succession, Coleman had a shot saved, Bargary fired over from distance and Jake O’Brien got his head to an O’Connor free kick but McGinty denied him. Then, 16 minutes from the end, Sligo won a penalty.
When a corner wasn’t cleared, Bossin saved an initial snapshot, but, in trying to claim the loose ball, he was adjudged to have felled Ogedi-Uzokwe and Coughlan stroked the ball home from the spot.
There were late equalising chances for City as Bargary shot over after a good run and Coleman drew a fine save from McGinty following good work by sub Cian Murphy, but Sligo did enough to ensure they took the points.
SLIGO ROVERS: McGinty; Banks, Buckley Mahon, Donelon (Cooper 77); Seymore, Morahan; Devers, DeVries (Noone half-time), Ogedi-Uzokwe; Coughlan.
CORK CITY: Bossin; Olowu, O’Brien, O’Connor; Ochieng, Coleman, Byrne (McGlade 60), Morrissey, Hurley (Bargary half-time); O’Brien-Whitmarsh (Murphy 80), Elliott.
Referee: R Hennessy (Clare).