Shelbourne 1 Cork City 1
DESHANE Dalling’s fortunate equaliser earned Cork City a draw in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash with Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Saturday evening.
The result moves Neale Fenn’s side off the bottom of the table, albeit with a game more played than Finn Harps and, while their goal was a lucky one, nobody will complain. Sixteen minutes of normal time remained with City trailing when Dalling underhit a cross from the left but goalkeeper Colin McCabe couldn’t claim the ball properly and it dropped into the net.
City had four changes from Monday night’s FAI Cup exit at the hands of Shamrock Rovers, with goalkeeper Mark McNulty, Dale Holland, Alan Bennett and Scott Fenwick coming into the team for Liam Bossin, Charlie Fleming, Jake O’Brien and Connor Simpson. Both O’Brien and Simpson would be back in the side by half-time, for different reasons.
The game’s first chance led to the opening goal. City were sluggish as Shels midfielder Seán Quinn carried the ball forward and fed Ciarán Kilduff on the right of the area. The former City man is more used to getting on the end of crosses but he stood up a good ball to the middle, allowing Dayle Rooney to drift in from the left and send a glancing header past Mark McNulty.
Kilduff had an acrobatic shot saved by McNulty not long after and, while City did respond well to the goal, it took until the 20th minute for anything resembling a chance. After good play on the right by Holland and Dylan McGlade, the latter’s cross found Scott Fenwick at the back post but he couldn’t direct the ball goalwards.
When Fenwick went down under a Dan Byrne challenge in the area on 23, City’s shouts for a penalty were waved away while Henry Ochieng’s long-range shot was well off-target. Just before the half-hour, at the other end, Bennett and Cian Coleman had to get in good blocks on shots by Gary Deegan and Kilduff, respectively.
Goalscorer Rooney was a constant that for Shels and, following a throw-in, he produced a good cross which Byrne met, forcing McNulty into a good save, while another delivery ended with Ryan Brennan firing over.
Just before half-time, City lost Bennet to a hamstring injury, with O’Brien replacing him, while manager Neale Fenn switched to a 4-4-2 for the second half as Simpson replaced Ochieng.
The attacker had an immediate impact, linking with Fenwick, whose shot was blocked by Byrne, but on 49 it was almost 2-0 as Brennan met a Rooney free kick from deep, McNulty doing well to save. Simpson went close with a header soon after that, Colin McCabe tipping over.
Just after the hour-mark, a great Shels move cut City open and should really have led to the second goal. Ryan Brennan dispossessed Deshane Dalling and fed Rooney, whose flick put Kilduff in, but McNulty kept the shot out with his legs. Moments later, the keeper saved another low effort from Kilduff.
The importance of those interventions was underlined when Dalling levelled and, while City briefly had momentum, they couldn’t create a chance to go ahead. In the closing stages, Shels subs Jaze Kabia and Aaron Dobbs found themselves also denied by McNulty, who ensured that the City travelled home with a point.
SHELBOURNE: McCabe; Poynton, D Byrne, L Byrne, O’Hanlon; Quinn, Deegan; Fernandes (Kabia 79), R Brennan (Dobbs 69), Rooney; Kilduff (M Byrne 79).
CORK CITY: McNulty; Holland (Hurley 83), Bennett (O’Brien 45), K O’Connor, Slevin; Coleman, Ochieng (Simpson half-time); McGlade, Morrissey, Dalling; Fenwick (Dinanga 87).
Referee: R Hennessy (Clare).