Sligo Rovers 2 Cork City 0
CORK City have now lost four games in a row in the Women’s National League as they were beaten at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
Goals in each half from Emma Doherty and Gemma McGuinness were enough to earn Rovers the three points and back-to-back wins over City this season.
City interim manager Jess Lawton was taking charge of her second senior match and she was hoping to build on her side’s positive performance last time out when they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Wexford Youths side at Turner’s Cross.
She made two changes from the side she selected to start that unfortunate loss as Lauren Walsh came in for Christina Dring, who recently made her 100th for the Leesiders, while goalkeeper Maria O’Sullivan came straight into the side on her return from college in America in place of Abby McCarthy.
But City were again guilty of starting the game slowly and they paid the ultimate price as O’Sullivan’s first task on her return was to pick the ball out of her net with just 40 seconds on the clock.
And there was nothing the keeper could do to stop it as Gemma McGuinness’ inch perfect cross in behind centre back Danielle Burke picked out the run of Emma Doherty and the number nine expertly planted her powerful header into the bottom left corner.
This is Sligo’s first ever season in the Women’s National League and their first ever victory at this level came on Leeside when they defeated City 2-1 at the Cross back in March.
And they almost made it 2-0 here with just over three minutes on the clock when Paula McGrory was sent clear on goal by an excellent through ball from Lauren Boles, although the attacker appeared to be in an offside position.
The linesman’s flag remained down though and after McGrory decided to unselfishly square the ball to Fiona Doherty, O’Sullivan did well to stop her powerful strike at the near post.
The visitors eventually grew into the contest and they had their first sight at goal on 12 minutes but Eva Mangan’s long-range strike took a heavy deflection allowing shot-stopper Amy Mahon, who was deputising for former City keeper Kristen Sample after she recently broke her arm, to make a comfortable save.
They had another effort from distance midway through the first half but after cutting inside her marker, Zara Foley’s powerful hit was denied by a last-ditch block from Amy Roddy.
Rovers soon regrouped and they looked the more likely to score the game's crucial second goal before the half-time break but Gemma McGuinness twice failed to make the most of her chances from good positions.
The home side continued that momentum into the second period and Fiona Doherty twice threatened to double her side’s lead within eight minutes of the restart but after seeing a fierce hit denied by O’Sullivan, she blasted over from a similar position just inside the penalty area.
The tempo of the match soon dropped and scoring opportunities dried up as a result although Nathalie O’Brien, who was one of three substitutions made by Lawton at the interval, blasted a strike towards goal from 25 yards but Mahon was more than equal to it.
Mangan fired just over from a similar distance with a quarter of an hour remaining before O’Sullivan was again required to make a fine stop from Emma Doherty.
But as City pushed for a leveller they left themselves open at the back and Sligo sealed the win in the closing stages when McGuinness raced onto Leahy Kelly’s superb defence-splitting pass before curling it past the advancing O’Sullivan although Aoibhin Donnelly was inches away from sliding in a consolation for the Rebel Army late on.
Jessica Casey for Kerri O’Hara (ht), Katie Melly for Fiona Doherty (72), Aoife Brennan for Emma Doherty (81), Lauren McLellan for Paula McGrory (81).
Maria O’Sullivan, Danielle Burke, Ciara McNamara, Zara Foley, Nadine Seward, Riona Crowley, Becky Cassin, Orlaith Deasy, Eva Mangan, Lauren Walsh, Lauren Singleton.
Shaunagh McCarthy for Riona Crowley (ht), Ellie O'Brien for Lauren Singleton (ht), Nathalie O'Brien for Lauren Walsh (ht), Aoibhin Donnelly for Orlaith Deasy (85), Chloe Atkinson for Nadine Seward (86).