Cork City 1 UCD 1
IT'S now, five games without a league victory for Cork City after they failed to hold onto the lead against UCD in the First Division at Turner's Cross on Friday night.
City had went ahead through Cian Murphy’s seventh league goal of the season, but an own goal from Mark McNulty meant the game finished level.
City made two changes from the side that defeated Sligo Rovers in their last outing, with new signings Aaron Bolger and on-loan Celtic player Barry Coffey, handed their debuts by Colin Healy, replacing Steven Beattie and Alec Byrne, both of whom missed the game through injury.
It was a scrappy opening to the game with neither side getting a foothold on the match. New signing Bolger looked nervous at the beginning, but grew into the game and played some impressive cross-field passes. Coffey, who was playing his first competitive match in over two months, looked like a player lacking match sharpness. The Celtic loanee was often caught in possession by the Students and was complacent with his passing.
UCD had the better opening chances of the game before Dylan McGlade had City’s first effort on goal but fired over the crossbar.
Coffey came close to scoring a debut goal but could not make proper contact with the ball from close range. The 20-year-old had another sight at goal, but again failed to connect effectively with the ball.
Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh looked a player full of confidence and looked the liveliest for City. His hold-up play was excellent and was bringing the players around him into the game. When City were out of possession, O’Brien-Whitmarsh was always the first line of defence and often gained the ball back for his teammates.
Jonas Hakkinen was another City player impressing. The defender was comfortable in possession and looked like a real leader for Healy’s side. UCD striker Colm Whelan is the division’s top scorer with 12 goals, but such was the impressive first-half performance from the City defender, that it was hard to tell of Whelan’s presence on the pitch.
Hakkinen has stood out in recent games with his excellent performances and is starting to influence those around him. His teammates have more confidence in the 22-year-old and trust him in and out of possession.
As the half came to an end, neither side could complain with the result. Both sides had little spells in the half when they were on top, without causing the other team any real problems, with neither keeper been tested.
Bolger will be happy with his first half. After an indifferent start, the 21-year-old’s confidence grew, and looked like a player that could be a real find for the club.
Coffey showed in glimpses why he was signed by Celtic as a 17-year-old but struggled at times with the pace of the game.
City took the lead four minutes into the second half when their top scorer Murphy managed to win the race with the onrushing UCD goalkeeper Lorcan Healy and tapped home into the empty net.
The Students almost level immediately afterward. Whelan rode several challenges before getting his strike away, but his effort was matched by McNulty, who made an excellent save to deny the UCD striker.
However, the City keeper was questioning his luck in the 60th minute, after Jack Keaney’s free-kick came back off the crossbar, only to hit the back of McNulty to draw the side’s level. There was little McNulty could do to prevent the own goal.
The game started to open up, with neither side happy to settle for a point. Both teams were pushing men forward in the hope of finding a winner but lacked that bit of quality needed in the final third.
Mark Dignam came within inches of giving the Students the lead. His low, placed effort managed to avoid a host of City players but it came back off the post. That was as close as either side came to finding a winning goal.