ON Friday night against Finn Harps, Neal Fenn picked up his first point as Cork City boss and the first clean sheet in four games.
As positives go, that’s about as good as it got. It was a very poor game between two sides who are clearly in the right position in terms of the league table.
Harps were defensive, with five at the back, but City were very poor. They didn’t play like they had in Fenn’s previous two home homes. The speed of movement, the fluidity were all missing and City struggled to raise a gallop against a poor Harps side.
The only decent chance was from Karl Sheppard in the first half when he had the ball in space at the edge of the box but fired wide. Other than that the highlight of the evening was Marky Sullivan taking on the two centre-halves, working his socks off but getting nowhere.
The big turning and talking point of the game was obviously the penalty in the second half when O’Sullivan was brought down in the box. What surprised the 2,016 in the crowd was who picked up the ball to take it.
With Sheppard on the pitch and Marky Sull on the pitch, I thought one of them would take it but Conor McCormack took the responsibility and unfortunately he missed. Firing straight down the middle allowing the goalkeeper Mark McGinley to save the kick with his foot.
It was a strange decision. Maybe he had been practising all week at training and looked good but I would have felt Marky Sull would have been a better choice.
City huffed and puffed but created very little. In fact, only for one super save by City’s keeper Tadgh Ryan in the 90th minute to deny Daniel O’Reilly from a rasping shot at the expense of a corner, Ollie Horgan’s men could have gone away with all three points.
It was that type of a game.
The disappointing factor for me was the poor performance from City having had two weeks to prepare. City looked a lot less prepared than they did in Fenn’s two first games.
Though they lost, you could see what he was trying to do in those games. Friday night, I couldn’t. They were back to kicking the ball long and the speed of their play was non-existent.
City now have all but assured themselves of staying in the Premier Division next year as Finn Harps are still seven points behind them with City having a game in hand but the big worry for City is the remaining fixtures.
They are away to Derry, away to Bohs, home to UCD, home to Dundalk and away to Rovers so it’s quite possible that City will not pick up too many more points.