DESPITE a change of management, Cork City fell to their fifth straight defeat as life under the interim management of sporting director Liam Buckley began with a defeat against St Patrick’s Athletic at Turners Cross on Friday night.
Although it was another defeat for City, it was a very encouraging performance from the Rebel Army and one they can build on.
The first half was the best City have played this season, however, the home side tired in the second period, and prolonging the intensity that they showed during the opening 45 minutes is something City will have to work on.
Without a host of players available, City made four changes to the side that lost heavily to Bohemians on Monday, with Jimmy Corcoran, Tundi Owolabi, Ethon Varian and Kevin Custovic coming into the starting 11.
It was a frantic opening to the game with both teams quick out of the blocks. Pats should have gone ahead inside the first minute but Mark Doyle failed to take advantage of the ball falling kindly to him inside the six-yard area and shot straight at Corcoran.
Despite having only arrived at the club two days earlier, it was clear that Liam Buckley had had an impact on the team. City were more patient in their build-up play, with the players looking to pass short rather than go direct to Ruairi Keating.
The visitors went in front six minutes into the game after Doyle played a wonderful low-ball across the City six-yard area leaving Conor Carty with the simplest of tap-ins.
City weren’t behind for long thanks to a helping hand from Pats. Attempting to play out from a goal kick, Sam Curtis was disposed of by Keating before the City striker played in Varian, who crossed to Owolabi, and the striker bundled the ball over the line. It wasn’t the cleanest of finishes from the striker but the City faithful didn’t care.
Pats went close to restoring their lead through Jake Mulraney but the attacker saw his effort come back off the crossbar.
The tempo to their game was far greater from City than any of their previous performances this season. That intensity paid off when Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh scored with a wonderful header from just inside the 18-yard box.
The pace of Owolabi was causing his former club all sorts of problems with the Pats’ defenders struggling to contain the striker. Owolabi could have had his second when he nicked the ball past Pats’ keeper Dean Lyons on the edge of the penalty area, only for the player to take an unnecessary extra touch which allowed Curtis to block his effort. He went close soon after but unfortunately saw his strike go just wide of the post.
City rode their luck at times for the remainder of the half with Pats going close on several occasions. However the home side created chances of their own, and perhaps more pleasingly, continued to pass the ball along the deck.
Unsurprisingly there was a drop-off in the pace of the game at the beginning of the second half, with both sets of players feeling the effects of their first-half effort.
However, the game wasn’t quiet for long. With Josh Honohan seemingly in control of the ball at the edge of the box, he was caught in possession by Mulraney, who sent an unstoppable effort into the top corner of the goal.
That goal gave the visitors a new lease of life with Pat's controlling possession of the ball. The Dubliners at times toyed with City with Chris Forrester in particular having a greater influence on the game.
City came back into the game midway through the first half with the players managing to get their passing game going again.
However, they fell behind when a sublime defence-splitting pass from Forrester played Adam Murphy through on goal and the striker calmly finished.
Corcoran; Coleman, Honohan (Walker 85), Custovic; Crowley, Healy, Coffey, Varian (Krezic 66); O’Brien-Whitmarsh; Owolabi (Murphy 76), Keating.
Lyness; Lewis, Curtis (Murphy 46), McGrath, Breslin; Forrester (Timmermans 84), Kreida (McCormack 81), Lennon; M Doyle, Carty (Lonergan 71), Mulraney (Atakayi 71).