CORK City had to settle for a point for the third time in four games as Colin Healy’s men could not make their second-half dominance over Drogheda count on Friday night in Turner's Cross.
City had taken the lead through Ruairi Keating before an own goal from Ally Gilchrist brought the side’s level. A draw was probably a fair reflection of the game with the visitors the better of it in the first period.
City made two changes to the side that lost in their last league fixture against Shelbourne a fortnight previous. Daniel Krezic came in to make his fourth league start of the season. There was also a return for Aaron Bolger after the midfielder had missed City’s two previous games due to a head injury he sustained in City’s 4-4 draw with Shamrock Rovers at the beginning of March. Ethon Varian and Matt Healy were those to miss out with the former missing the game through injury, one which is expected to keep the Ipswich Town loanee out for a number of weeks.
There was nothing between the sides in the opening stages of the game. Both teams had early sights of goal without really testing the keepers, and both were trying to adapt to the bobbly playing surface.
City were direct in their play, with the hosts often opting to go back to front to try and exploit the wide gap between the two Drogheda centre-backs, with Keating threatening to get in behind.
Keating soon had his team ahead in the 17th minute. Bolger hung a wide free-kick into the six-yard area and Keating made no mistake heading low into the corner of the net. It was a wonderful header from the City frontman as he seemed to spend an age in the air before scoring his fifth goal of the season.
The goal seemed to settle any nerves the home side had with the City players showing a lot more quality on the ball after the goal. Keating continued to cause the Drogheda defence problems while Krezic showed good moments.
Going behind didn’t seem to faze Drogheda. The Louth side were still neat in their play but just lacked that bit of quality needed in the final third to get them back on level terms.
Keating’s hold-up play and ability to win his aerial battles against the away side’s defence almost saw City go further ahead but Krezic failed to captilise on an excellent flick-on from his teammate.
Apart from Keating, Bolger was also a City player that impressed during the first half. The 23-year-old midfielder was always looking to get on the ball and was also excellent in his defensive role of protecting the back four.
The away side were level when for the second successive league game, a City player inadvertently turned the ball into his own net. This time Gilchrist was the culprit when he was unable to adjust his body to Darragh Markey’s low-in-swinging cross.
The ball came off the outstretched leg of the Scottish defender and lopped over Jimmy Corcoran in the City goal to bring the away side deservingly level just before the interval.
The first opportunity of the second half fell to Cian Bargary after the Tipperary native found himself in acres of space inside the penalty area. Despite beating Colin McCabe with his strike, Evan Weir was on hand to deny Bargary with his goalline block.
City were much better after the break and came close to restoring their lead when Krezic forced McCabe into a save, with the Drogheda keeper making the effort look more speculative than it actually was.
Playing into the shed end certainly had a positive effect on City. The away side looked nervous in defence as City played on the front foot.
Despite spending most of the half trying to preserve the score, Drogheda still created some uncomfortable moments for City when the Louth side did go forward.
Corcoran; Crowley, Hakkinen (Varian 80), Gilchrist, Honohan; Bolger, Coleman, Coffey (Winbo 64); Bargary, Keating, Krezic (Murphy 70).
McCabe; Ahui, Adegboyega, Jones, Weir; Rooney, Deegan, Brennan (Noone 90), Grimes (McNally 74), Markey; Draper (Davis 80).