Cork City 4 Athlone Town 1
CORK City recorded another impressive victory as their march towards promotion from the First Division continued against Athlone Town at Turner's Cross on Friday night.
A brace from Ruairi Keating, as well as goals from Cian Murphy and Barry Coffey gave City a comfortable win against Athlone, with Carlton Ubaezuonu scoring for the visitors.
In front of 2,754 spectators, City again showed why they sit top of the table. It was a routine win for City and they are starting to look like the team to beat in the division this year.
Results went in their favour elsewhere on Friday night, with Galway and Waterford both losing.
There was an air of expectation from the City supporters and they didn’t have to wait long for their team to register their first effort on goal with Coffey testing Micheal Schlingermann inside 15 seconds.
The Athlone goalkeeper was called into action again two minutes later, this time preventing Murphy. The City striker looked eager to get on the scoresheet and might have felt he could have done better with a header moments later but was unable to hit the target.
Colin Healy’s side were ahead in the 7th minute. Ruairi Keating found himself through on goal and the striker showed excellent composure to go round Sclingermann to finish into an empty net and score his third goal of the season.
Keating doubled his tally from the penalty spot 12 minutes later after Ubaezunou was judged to have prevented Jonas Hakkinen’s goalbound header with his arm.
The two-goal advantage was no more than City deserved after a high tempo start from the league leaders that could have easily seen them further in front.
City’s dominance was evident throughout the first half with Athlone players at times merely chasing shadows. Aaron Bolger was showing why he has been nominated for the SSE Airtricity/ SWI Player of the Month for March, the only player on the shortlist from the First Division, with another influential performance.
City went further ahead in the 35th minute. This time Murphy wasn’t to be denied when he headed home from close-range.
Athlone to their credit did show some fight and found a way back into the game before half-time when Ubaezuonu was able to direct his header beyond the outstretched David Harrington to end City’s run of three consecutive clean sheets and extend Athlone’s record of having scored in their last 12 fixtures in all competitions.
After conceding from two long throw-ins in their last outing against Galway, it was noticeable that Healy had done his homework on his opponents.
The home side were constantly using Cian Baragry’s long throw throughout the contest and that paid dividends six minutes into the second half when the Athlone defence failed to deal with a throw-in and Coffey was left with the simplest of finishes to fire home from inside the six-yard box.
Athlone never troubled City through the second-half and their task got even tougher when the visitors were reduced to 10-men when substitute Aaron Connelly was sent-off after a reckless challenge from the midfielder.