UCD 0 Cork City 0
CORK City maintained their impressive recent run with a 0-0 draw against UCD, at the UCD Bowl in the SSE Airtricity First Division on Friday night.
Although City will be happy to come away from Dublin with a point, they will feel that it was an opportunity missed, considering some of the chances they created.
City manager Colin Healy named the same starting 11 for the third successive game but changed from the 4-4-2 formation the visitors had played in their previous two games to a 3-5-2.
The change of formation allowed City to match up the students in midfield, which meant that City were able to press UCD and not allow the Students time on the ball.
City should have taken the lead early on. Jack Walsh headed effort came back off the post after he outjumped UCD goalkeeper Carl Williams, and Cian Murphy probably should have done better with the follow-up, but his effort was blocked.
City looked comfortable with three at the back and limited UCD to any clear-cut chances. The Students had scored 21 goals so far this season leading into the game but found it difficult to open the City defence. Ronan Hurley has struggled at times this season, but he looked like he was enjoying his new defensive role.
The improvement in City’s work rate off the ball has been very noticeable the last two games and it was the same again tonight. Cian Bargary is an attacking player but was putting in a shift for the team at left wing-back and could have scored just before half-time but was denied by an excellent save from Williams.
City midfield applied pressure early in the half on the UCD but not surprisingly, were unable to maintain it and towards the latter parts of the half, Ian Ryan’s men started to control the middle of the pitch but still didn’t cause City many problems.
The one criticism of City’s first-half performance was, that they didn’t make enough short passes and went long to Murphy and Walsh too often and weren’t able to get up the pitch. In the rare occasions when they did pass short, they got in behind the UCD defence and looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
UCD began the second half brightly and the division’s top scorer Colm Whelan, started to impact the game, forcing City goalkeeper Mark McNulty to make a save early on. Whelan was started to drop deeper to collect the ball and was making it much more difficult for the City defence.
UCD goalkeeper Williams, who had replaced regular keeper Lorcan Healy, struggled to deal with crosses all night. Williams was fortunate, when punched the ball against Murphy’s head from a City corner, that the ball somehow managed not to cross the line.
Ryan’s men upped the tempo in the second half and looked a lot more dangerous in attack. They created more openings and looked more like a side that were top of the table.
The introduction of Beineon Whitmarsh-O’Brien added more pace to the City attack. After scoring two goals against Wexford last week, the substitute looked like he had a point to prove. Both sides tried to win the game but couldn’t create an opening.
City will be back at Turners Cross next week when they host Galway United.
Williams, Eoin Farrell (Evan Farrell 79), Todd, O’Brien, Weir, Digham (Behan 86); Doyle (Higgins 86), Keane, Brennan, Whelan, Bishop (Lennon 54).
McNulty; Coleman, Hakkinen, Hurley; Walker, Baxter, Byrne (Morrissey 43), Crowley Bargary; Walsh (O’Brien-Whitmarsh 59), Murphy (McGlade 75).