Relegation looms for Cork City after another dispiriting loss at the Cross

Relegation looms for Cork City after another dispiriting loss at the Cross

Alan Bennett scores an own goal watched by Jason McClelland of St Patrick's Athletic at Turner's Cross. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Cork City 1 St Patrick’s Athletic 2

CORK City are now six games without a win, five in the SSE Airtircity League Premier Division, after defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic at Turner’s Cross on Saturday evening.

The Rebel Army remain bottom of the top flight after a poor start saw them conceded twice in the opening minutes against Stephen O’Donnell’s side.

Pat’s led 2-1 at half-time, but it really should have been more as they enjoyed a near-monopoly on chances until City captain Gearóid Morrissey got them back in the game just before half-time. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for the home fans, with supporters allowed back at the Cross for the first time since February.

City had one change from the draw with Finn Harps last week as Uniss Kargbo returned from injury to replace Dale Holland. Any hopes of a good start were shelved though as Pat’s had the lead inside eight minutes, albeit in fortuitous circumstances. After Chris Forrester’s long-range shot had forced a save from Mark McNulty for a corner, Robbie Benson’s delivery passed the near post and bounced in off the shin of Alan Bennett, who was a yard from the goal-line.

Pat’s had only scored twice in their last seven league games – both coming in the win over Shelbourne last week – but they had matched that tally by the 11th minute. After Georgie Kelly knocked down a cross to Jordan Gibson, Bennett looked to have cleared the danger but Gibson kept the chance alive and then finished smartly past Mark McNulty.

City were shell-shocked and if Pat’s had been more clinical, they could have piled on the agony. McClelland and Forrester had low shots saved by McNulty while Kelly fired over with a great chance when Forrester picked him out on 23 minutes.

In a bid to change things, City manager Neale Fenn brought on Henry Ochieng and Ricardo Dinanga for Dylan McGlade and Dáire O’Connor just after the half-hour and Dinanga made an immediate impact with a good run full of urgency but another Pat’s goal remained a danger and Kelly was again unlucky as a low Benson ball across was just inches ahead of his sliding effort.

As the interval approached, City found a little bit of inspiration. First, Kevin O’Connor’s half-volley was deflected wide but, while the players claimed a handball and penalty, referee Derek Tomney’s decision was a Pat’s free-kick for offside.

However, in injury time the home side had found a way back into the game, as a free-kick broke in the penalty area and captain Gearóid Morrisey was able to poke the ball through a cluster of players and into the net.

On the resumption, City offered more endeavour but without truly testing Brendan Clarke in the Pat’s goal. An example of the greater threat came 10 minutes after the restart as Deshane Dalling fed Dinanga on the left and his intended cross for Kit Elliott had to be cut out by Lee Desmond.

Deshane Dalling of Cork City in action against Jamie Lennon of St Patrick's Athletic. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Deshane Dalling of Cork City in action against Jamie Lennon of St Patrick's Athletic. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

 Then, shortly after the hour-mark, Morrissey was fouled for a free kick 25 yards out, with Kevin O’Connor’s shot hitting a man in the wall and going out for a corner. When that was only half-cleared, Ochieng picked out Joseph Olowu in the area but the defender couldn’t properly direct his volley.

Having weathered the City storm, Pat’s began to threaten again in the game’s third quarter, with Forrester drawing a good save from McNulty after a pullback by former City man Shane Griffin while Gibson and Jason McClelland failed to find the target with good opportunities.

While City, who had introduced Scott Fenwick for Elliott, kept pressing, they couldn’t create chances of sufficient quality, though a Morrissey delivery towards the goalmouth almost dipped in, bouncing just past the post.

Despite four minutes of injury time being added, City’s only sniff of a levelling goal was when Morrissey flicked on an O’Connor free but Clarke comfortably saved and the victory lifted Pat’s to fourth place in the table.

CORK CITY: McNulty; Kargbo, Olowu, Bennett, K O’Connor; Coleman (Galvin 88), Morrissey; D O’Connor (Ochieng 32), Dalling, McGlade (Dinanga 32); Elliott (Fenwick 73).
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke; Feely, McNally, Desmond, Griffin; Lennon, Benson; McClelland, Forrester (Markey 90), Gibson; Kelly (King 77).

Referee: D Tomney (Dublin).

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