SUB Ricardo Dinanga was the match-winner for Cork City as his 121st-minute goal decided Tuesday night’s FAI Cup clash at Turner’s Cross.
With penalties looming and City down to 10 men, the Rebel Army forged one last chance as Charlie Fleming sent a ball down the right and Dinanga chased. As he worked his way into the area, he managed to create an opening and fired past Luke Dennison in the Longford goal.
The victory sends City into the second round and provides a welcome boost ahead of Friday’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash with Sligo Rovers, while a long period without a goal since the start came to an end.
City had five changes from Saturday’s scoreless draw with Waterford at the RSC. Liam Bossin came in in goal for Mark McNulty while Graham Cummins made his third debut for the club, starting at centre-back, with Cian Bargary and Ronan Hurley the wing-backs and Dylan McGlade in for the injured Cory Galvin. Alan Bennett, Rob Slevin and Uniss Kargbo also dropped out of the team.
The first half had encouraging moments for a City team that held possession well and made full use of the width of the pitch, but ultimately it extended their goalless streak to 315 minutes.
It was Longford who had the early chances, with midfielder Aodh Dervin firing over while Aaron McNally sent a glancing header wide. City began to find a rhythm though, with Bargary giving them a strong attacking outlet on the right.
On nine minutes, his low cross gave Cian Murphy a chance, drawing a save from Luke Dennison, and soon after that Bargary was denied by the Longford goalkeeper at the expense of a corner. At the other end, midfielder Cian Coleman – City captain for the night – had to be alert to clear the danger from a dangerous Longford free kick, taken by Matthew O’Brien.
On the half-hour, Dáire O’Connor’s lay-off allowed Cian Murphy a shot from just outside the area but it was charged down well by Dervin, two corners, one by Dylan McGlade from the left and one by Kevin O’Connor from the right, afforded Cummins – now a defender – half-chances but he couldn’t make the most of them.
In the midst of that pressure, though, Longford did well to create an opening. Their pressing of City had been impressive throughout the opening period and when right-back Shane Elworthy forced a turnover, he fed Dylan Grimes, who in turned played in Rob Manley – a City transfer target last winter – but Bossin saved with his legs at the near post.
Bossin was called upon four minutes before the break too, when a loose Kevin O’Connor ball across the City area was intercepted by Aaron McNally and he was almost in, but the goalkeeper was quick off his line.
City had the final chance of the half as Bargary’s fine ball found Murphy in the area but he couldn’t pick out Dáire O’Connor. Unfortunately, that was Bargary’s last impact as he landed awkwardly going for an aerial ball in injury time and was unable to come out for the second half, replaced by Charlie Fleming.
Fleming was immediately involved after the restart, going down under a McNally challenge in the Longford area, but City’s appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Ray Matthews.
Apart from a long-range effort by the impressive Coleman which was saved, Longford had the better of much of the second period. City needed stout defence and Cummins had to get in a good block on a shot by Longford sub Aaron McCabe, who then almost diverted a Callum Warfield ball into the net midway through the half.
With 13 minutes left, City were reduced to ten men as Cummins was red-carded for hauling Warfield down as he chased a clearance, though the subsequent free kick by Dean Zambra came to nothing.
McCabe and McNally both had late efforts for Longford and Coleman had a shot saved by Dennison at the death but extra time was required. The only half-chance in the first 15 minutes was a Kevin O’Connor volley which was well over.
In the second period, Dylan McGlade went closest but it looked as though penalties would decide the tie. That was until Dinanga made his intervention.
CORK CITY: Bossin; Olowu (Bennett 112), Cummins, K O’Connor; Bargary (Fleming half-time), Coleman, Ochieng, Hurley (Dinanga 75); D O’Connor (Holland 70), McGlade; Murphy (Slevin extra time).
LONGFORD TOWN: Dennison; Elworthy (Barnes 79), J Manley, Gorman, Chambers; Dervin, O’Brien; Grimes (McCabe 59), Verdon (Zambra 66), McNally; R Manley (Warfield 66).
Referee: R Matthews (Westmeath).