Cork City strike early and hold on for vital victory away to Wexford

Colin Healy's Rebel Army remain on the top of the First Division table before a gap weekend in their battle for promotion 
Cork City strike early and hold on for vital victory away to Wexford

Cork City's Jonas Hakinnen heads clear from Wexford's Jack Doherty. Picture: Patrick Browne

Wexford 0 Cork City 1 

CIAN Murphy’s goal was enough to give Cork City their fifth successive league win against Wexford at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night. 

It was a hard-fought win for Colin Healy’s side who, despite not being at their very best, still managed to get all three points.

There was one change in the City side from their last league outing against Athlone Town. Stoke City-loanee Kieran Coates came into the side after his impressive display against Midleton in the Munster Senior Cup earned him a spot in the starting 11 instead of Ronan Hurley, who dropped to the bench. 

There were two familiar faces in the Wexford line-up, with former City players Paul Hunt and Conor Davies appearing in Ian Ryan’s starting 11 - both of whom never made a first-team competitive appearance during their time with City.

Healy’s side have become known for their quick starts in games of late, with the league leaders having scored inside 15 minutes in their previous four games, and there was no exception in this encounter with City taking the lead within five minutes. 

Hunt will feel that he should have done better to prevent Murphy’s header after the striker managed to get on the end of Cian Bargary’s high looping cross.

The dry pitch made it a less attractive spectacle in the opening stages of the game with little free-flowing football on show. Both sides were happy to go more direct and were creating their best opportunities from set-plays. Joe Manley was unable to direct his headed effort on target before Barry Coffey glanced a header over the crossbar from a Bargary long throw-in.

Wexford were almost level when an out-swinging free-kick from Jack Doherty was nearly put into his own net from Jonas Hakkinen after the City defender found himself under immense pressure from Paul Cleary, but David Harrington was able to spare the blushes of his teammate.

Cork City's Kieran Coates under pressure from Wexford's Len O'Sullivan. Picture: Patrick Browne
Cork City's Kieran Coates under pressure from Wexford's Len O'Sullivan. Picture: Patrick Browne

Clearcut opportunities were scarce with Bargary next to register an effort but his long-range strike sailed high over the crossbar. Although they weren’t creating many chances, City looked comfortable throughout the half and used the pace of Murphy by playing passes behind the Wexford defence for the striker to run onto.

After scoring two goals against Athlone, Ruairi Keating came into the match full of confidence. The player showed great feet to create space for himself to test Hunt but the keeper comfortably dealt with the strike to prevent City from going further in front before half-time.

City had the first opportunity of the second half. Bargary collected the ball on the edge of his own penalty area before travelling all the way into the Wexford box, and his pullback found the on-rushing Coffey who failed to hit the target.

The opening third of the second half was reminiscent of the first, with neither side dominating proceedings and very little between them. Wexford were looking the more dangerous but struggled to break down a stubborn City defence.

City looked dangerous on the counter-attack and Coffey was again denied by Hunt when the keeper managed to parry the midfielder's strike away. The on-loan Celtic player might have regretted his decision not to play through Bargary, who appeared to be in a better position to get on the scoresheet.

There were nervy moments for City late in the game but they managed to hang on.

WEXFORD: Hunt; O’Sullivan, Cleary, Considine (Farrell 79), Manley, Wells (McEvoy 74); Tallon (Crowley 62), Groome, Davies (Barry 79); Doherty, Dobbs.

CITY: Harrington; Hakkinen, Gilchrist, O’Connor; Bargary, Bolger, Coffey, Crowley, Coates (Kargbo 66): Keating, Murphy.

Referee: D Keeler.    

Attendance: 506

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