CORK City have claimed a record 11th straight win of the season with a hard fought 2-1 win over second placed Bray Wanderers to open up a 12 point lead at the top of the table after Dundalk lost 2-1 up at Galway United.
City had to make a late change when midfielder Garry Buckley, with five goals in five games, pulled up with a hamstring strain in the warm-up and he was replaced by Greg Bolger.
Cork were out of the blocks fast with Kevin O’Connor’s free forcing a back peddling Peter Cherrie to tip the ball away in the third minute.
Seanie Maguire played in Karl Sheppard and he smashed a drive off the upright and in the 10th minute the home team took the lead.
Bray’s Derek Foran was penalised and yellow carded for a jersey pull on Ryan Delaney and Monaghan-based referee Paul McLaughlin pointed to the spot.
Maguire stepped up to send Cherrie the wrong way from the penalty spot for his ninth league goal of the season and his first in three games.
Cherrie was in action again on 14 minutes when he dived to save from Maguire after being set up by Sheppard as John Caulfield’s side set the tempo and intensity in the first half.
Aaron Greene tested Mark McNulty from long range nearing half-time before Cherrie made a brilliant one handed save to keep out Stephen Dooley’s shot on the end of a mazy run into the box.
Bray were close to an equaliser when John Sullivan flicked on Gary McCabe’s 49th minute corner only for left-back Kevin O’Connor to pop up on the far post and head clear off the line.
The visitors were beginning to get a foothold coming up to the hour mark as they dominated possession and sprayed the ball around with some meaningful attacks but City stood tall as McCabe fired over and McNulty saved from Greene.
Sheppard lifted the siege when his drive was deflected over off Tim Clancy but the home team claimed the three points when Johnny Dunleavy headed home O’Connor’s 86th minute corner.
Bray did get a goal back in added time when Derek Foran headed in Karl Moore’s free kick.
McNulty; Beattie, Dunleavy (capt), Delaney, O’Connor; McCormack, Morrissey; Sheppard, Bolger, Dooley; Maguire.
Keohane for Bolger (60 mins), Griffin for Dooley (82 mins), O’Sullivan, Campion, Nanetti, Ellis & Smith (not used)
Cherrie; Buckley, Clancy (capt), Foran, Marks; Sullivan, Salmon; Brennan, McCabe, Connolly; Greene.
Moore for Salmon (72 mins), Flood for Brennan (76 mins), Kenna, Pender, Aherne, Noone & Steacy (not used)
Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan)