Cork City 0 Bray Wanderers 0
CORK City’s five-game winning stream in the league ended against Bray Wanderers after the leaders were unable to find a way past the Seagulls at Turner's Cross on Friday night.
City wasted numerous chances in the game, including a golden opportunity for Barry Coffey five minutes from time, but can have few complaints about the result failing to reach the same level of performance as recent weeks.
City were back in action for the first time in two weeks, and the break allowed for a number of injured players to return to the squad, including on-loan Ipswich Town midfielder Matt Healy, who was the sole change to the side that defeated Wexford, replacing Kieran Coates in the starting 11.
Bray, who came into the encounter undefeated in their previous five matches, started brightly and created the first opportunity of the game but were denied by an excellent block from Ally Gilchrist.
It was an even opening 15 minutes between the sides and credit must go to the way Pat Devlin set up his players. Bray passed the ball really well at times and found joy down City’s right-hand side. It was clear to see that Devlin felt that that was an area of the pitch that his team could exploit City, with the majority of Bray’s play coming down that side.
It was the first time in six games that City had not scored inside the opening 15 minutes, which came as no surprise as they did not have the same intensity to their play as we have been used to seeing in recent weeks.
The first shot on target in the game came in the 26th minute after Healy played a perfectly weighted defence-splitting pass to Ruairi Keating, but after an excellent first touch by the striker to set up the opportunity for himself, he was denied by the feet of McGuiness at the near post.
That chance seemed to spark City into life with Cian Baragry starting to have more of an impact on the game. It was from his braveness to run at the Bray defence that created City’s next opportunity but Healy could only fire over the crossbar.
In a quiet first half, Bargary did look the most threatening of the City players. His willingness to take the ball in all areas of the pitch and run at the Bray players was causing Devlin’s side issues. It was a subdued performance from City in the half. They created very little and lacked any real intensity in their play.
The City players reacted to the halftime team talk and started the second half on the front foot. Cian Murphy played Keating through on goal, and the latter should have at least tested McGuiness but opted not to strike first time, instead deciding to take a touch which took him away from goal.
Although Keating will be disappointed not to have done better, he was having an impact on the game. Some of his touches to link play were of real class and he always made sure to get himself into the box after linking the play.
Bray were not willing admirers of City's bright start to the half and Rob Manley’s header went dangerously close to giving the away side the lead.
City could have gone ahead when Gilchrist found himself free at the back post but the defender seemed surprised that the ball managed to find its way to him and was unable to adjust his body quick enough to take advantage.
The final chance of the game fell to Coffey but he somehow failed to convert from inside the six-yard area.
Harrington; Hakkinen, Gilchrist, O’Connor; Bargary, Bolger, Coffey, Healy (Coleman 83), Crowley, : Keating, Murphy.
McGuinness; Blackbyrne, Hudson (Douglas 90), Knight, Fox; Dalton, Manahan, Levingston (Lynch 84), Zambra, Thompson; Manley.