Stephen Dooley’s fourth goal of the season proved to be the winner in this top versus bottom Premier Division clash and edged basement boys Drogheda United a step closer to relegation at United Park in Co. Louth tonight.
After a scoreless first half, Dooley broke the deadlock on 53 minutes with a cheeky finish through the legs of goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness after Connor Ellis had flicked on Mark McNulty’s raking goal kick.
Drogheda without a win in 14 matches now and eight points away from safety were the happier team going in at the break with the game tied nil-all but Dooley’s clinical finish crushed the home team’s spirit and ambition.
Cork with five changes from the side that lost their 22-match unbeaten run to Bohemians earlier in the week had the better chances but were unable to penetrate the home defence.
City might have been a goal up in the opening minute but Connor Ellis shot wide after taking Shane Griffin’s pass around McGuinness.
Karl Sheppard had a shot saved before basement side Drogheda missed a great chance on 14 minutes when Thomas Byrne curled Chris Mulhall’s lay-off wide of the far post with a stranded McNulty beaten.
Gearoid Morrissey had a shot saved before Cork created three chances in a row when Sheppard had a flick header taken off the line by Sean Brennan, Ellis turned Sheppard's cross wide and then Sheppard swivelled and got a shot away only for McGuinness to dive away to his right and gather the ball at the second attempt.
Drogheda had Chris Mukhall, Lloyd Buckley, Jake Hyland and Jack Bayly all booked in the ten minutes coming up to half-time as they battled hard to keep City at bay.
In added time, Jimmy Keohane hit the crossbar with a rising shot from outside the penalty area and Sadler in a one-on-one with McGuiness had his shot saved after a quick counter attack.
McGuinness; Elworthy, Buckley, Dunne, Kane; Hyland; T. Byrne, Bayly, Brennan (capt), Russell; Mulhall. McEvoy for Brennan (67 mins), Purdy for Hyland (75 mins), Wixted for Russell (78 mins), Masterson, Dempsey, Hollywood & Meaney (not used)
McNulty; Beattie, Bennett (capt), Williams, Griffin; McCormack, Morrissey; Sheppard, Buckley, Dooley; Ellis. Campion & Sadlier for Ellis & Sheppard (both 61 mins), Keohane for Buckley (80 mins), Delaney, Bolger, McCarthy & Smith (not used) Referee: Robert Hennessy (Dublin)