Cork City 1
Longford Town 3
THREE goals in eight minutes proved to be decisive as Cork City lost their first pre-season game of the year, going down against Longford Town at Mayfield United Park on Saturday.
Having taken the lead through Seán McLoughlin, City looked comfortable but a freak own goal drew Longford level before Paul O’Connor put them in front immediately afterwards.
City might have levelled straight after that when awarded a penalty but Garry Buckley’s effort was saved by Jack Menton and then Adam Evans made it 3-1 shortly before half-time. While City, with almost a fully-changed team, threatened in the second period, they were unable to eat into the deficit and Neale Fenn’s side saw things out for the victory.
At a cold but dry Mayfield, City had the better of the early exchanges, with Shane Griffin having an effort blocked by Shane Elworthy while Darragh Rainsford nearly blocked down a clearance by goalkeeper Menton. Gearóid Morrissey also tested the custodian, with Longford’s only real chance of the opening quarter coming as Aaron Barry did well to get in the way of Evans’ shot.
On 23, City had the lead as McLoughlin met a fine Pierce Phillips delivery from a corner to send the ball to the net.
Longford almost replied in the wake of that, with McNulty doing well to dive at the feet of Zambra after the midfielder had linked with O’Connor and the goalkeeper then touched Zambra’s corner away to prevent Joe Manley getting to the ball at the back post.
Following another chance for Rainsford as he tested Menton again, after the half-hour Dan Casey sent a low shot into the Longford wall after Buckley touched the ball to him. Casey did have the ball in the net on 35, but unfortunately for him it was at the wrong end.
In fairness to the Dublin defender, his back pass to Mark McNulty was innocuous but the ball bobbled under the goalkeeper’s foot and tricked in, reminiscent of the Damien Delaney-Peter Cherrie incident against Bohemians last year.
Within a minute, Longford were in front as O’Connor diverted Evans’ cross beyond McNulty, but City had a chance to level when Buckley was fouled – referee Graham Kelly pointing to the penalty spot despite Longford protests that the foul had been outside the box.
Buckley stepped up to take the kick himself but Menton guessed correctly and kept out the shot.
Griffin went close with a low attempt from distance for City by on 43 Longford had a third. Striker Aaron Dobbs was the instigator, driving forward and linking well with O’Connor, whose pass was perfect to allow Evans a straightforward finish.
Just before half-time, Rainsford shot into the side-netting following a good Phillips cross and, with nine changes – McNulty and Buckley remained on – City took the game to Longford on the resumption.
Rona Hurley’s cross from the left gave Ronan Coughlan a chance, with the striker shooting wide, while Graham Cummins also went close before Longford sub goalkeeper Lee Steacy did well to deny Coughlan. When Colm Horgan picked up the loose ball from that, his cross was perfect for Cummins, whose header had to be tipped over by Steacy.
Buckley headed just over from a good Hurley corner and then the wing-back’s low cross allowed Horgan a shot but Steacy saved well with his legs.
Longford sub Karl Fitzsimons had the best opportunity to make it 4-1 after Anto Breslin’s free kick found him the area, but as the game wound down City threatened again. Dáire O’Connor, who had been a lively presence in midfield, crossed for Cummins, who headed just wide and at the very end Horgan’s lay-off gave Coughlan another chance but Breslin got in a good block.
CORK CITY first half: Mark McNulty; Dan Casey, Aaron Barry, Seán McLoughlin; Pierce Phillips, Conor McCormack, Garry Buckley, Gearóid Morrissey, Shane Griffin; James Tilley, Darrgh Rainsford.
Second half: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Alan Bennett, John Kavanagh; Colm Horgan, Dáire O’Connor, Garry Buckley, Garry Comerford, Ronan Hurley; Ronan Coughlan, Graham Cummins.
Sub: David Harrington for McNulty (79).
LONGFORD TOWN: Jack Menton; Karl Chambers, Joe Manley, Conor Kenna, Anto Breslin; Shane Elworthy, Aodh Dervin, Dean Zambra, Paul O’Connor, Adam Evans; Aaron Dobbs.
Subs: Lee Steacy for Menton (half-time), Jamie Doyle for Dobbs, Mick McDonnell for Manley, Karl Fitzsimons for Dervin (all 60), Paddy O’Sullivan for Zambra (68), Eoin O’Neill for Evans, Tumelo Tlou for Chambers (both 72).
Referee: Graham Kelly.