St. Patrick’s Athletic cantered to three points after a calamitous opening spell from Cork City paved the way for a straightforward away win at Turner’s Cross.
Both sides made one change from their respective previous fixtures as Neale Fenn opted for Uniss Kargbo ahead of Dale Holland at right-back in City’s only alteration from last Sunday’s draw at Finn Harps.
Stephen O’Donnell in the away dugout replaced Darragh Markey with Jamie Lennon after a solid win at home to Shelbourne last Saturday night.
The visitors were quicker off the mark, with Chris Forrester’s shot from distance after seven minutes causing Mark McNulty to scramble to his left.
The City ‘keeper palmed the effort behind, although it looked to be heading wide of its own accord.
McNulty would have cause to rue his decision seconds later, as Robbie Benson’s resultant corner evaded everyone but Alan Bennett at the far post. The City veteran couldn’t adjust his feet and the ball went into the net off his knee.
Worse was to follow for the Rebel Army after ten minutes, as Bennett strode towards the right-hand touchline with the ball after a scramble in his own box.
As he and Kargbo dallied, the latter’s clearance was charged down by Jordan Gibson. The visitors’ winger had time to control the ball before shooting past the exposed McNulty.
By now, City were a rabble. McNulty saved low to his right from Jason McClelland and caught a central effort from Forrester.
The Athletic almost had a third in the twentieth minute when a City goal-kick routine went horribly wrong and resulted in Forrester gliding unimpeded down the left-hand channel.
The former Peterborough playmaker’s effort rebounded off McNulty’s left-hand post to the inrushing McClelland, who dragged a weak effort just wide.
The home side were again fortunate not to fall further behind three minutes later when a goal-kick from Brendan Clarke found its way to Gibson on the left.
His deep cross was returned to the middle by Forrester, but Georgie Kelly couldn’t keep his effort down with the goal at his mercy.
Fenn sought to correct matters shortly after the half-hour with the introduction of Henry Ochieng and Ricardo Dinanga, with Dylan McGlade and Dáire O’Connor making way.
The home manager’s intervention staunched the bleeding, although Pat’s again went close six minutes before half-time as a sliding Kelly was inches from connecting with Benson’s inviting ball from the left.
Although Pat’s looked less threatening thereafter, the events immediately preceding half-time were nevertheless unexpected.
Ochieng’s free-kick from the centre-circle should have been easy for Clarke to deal with, but his punch under pressure from Coleman and Olowu was weak.
Gearoid Morrissey returned it with interest through a crowded penalty area to the net and the home side had a scarcely-deserved lifeline going into the break.
The hosts weren’t to capitalise on their good fortune as the second half followed the same pattern as the first.
Any chances worthy of the name fell to the visitors; Kelly got underneath a fine Forrester cross, while the latter then steered a weak effort straight at McNulty from a Shane Griffin cutback halfway through the second period.
In between, the hosts had their best chance of the half after Morrissey bought a central free-kick twenty-five yards out. Kevin O’Connor’s effort lacked conviction and came off the wall for a corner, which the away side dealt with.
Pat’s turned the screw again and with twenty minutes to go a breaking Forrester found Gibson, who telegraphed his reluctance to shoot with his left foot and allowed Olowu back to pressurise him into a wild right-footed slice.
Two minutes later McClelland thoroughly bamboozled O’Connor down the right and was unlucky to see his left-footed effort go just wide of the far post.
Substitute Billy King, who netted the winner in the return fixture in March, then found Gibson with a cross from the right; the winger should have sealed the points with a close-range header but could only divert the ball over the crossbar.
City were reduced to crosses from deep towards a static Scott Fenwick, who had replaced Kit Elliott.
Fenwick’s most telling contribution was to bundle a scrambling Clarke into the ‘keeper’s own net as Morrissey’s looping cross evaded them both.
Pat’s saw the game out comfortably and will look forward to a home clash with Dundalk next Friday night. City, meanwhile, continue to sleepwalk towards the First Division.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Alan Bennett, Uniss Kargbo, Kevin O'Connor, Joseph Olowu; Deshane Dalling, Cian Coleman (Cory Galvin 89), Gearoid Morrissey, Dylan McGlade (Henry Ochieng 32), Daire O'Connor (Ricardo Dinanga 32); Kit Elliott (Scott Fenwick 74).
Subs not used: Scott Fenwick, Liam Bossin, Dale Holland, Jake O'Brien.
Booked: Cian Coleman (31).
St. Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Shane Griffin, Rory Feely, Lee Desmond, Luke McNally; Jordan Gibson, Chris Forrester (Darragh Markey 90), Jamie Lennon, Robbie Benson, Jason McClelland; Georgie Kelly (Billy King 77).
Subs not used: Conor Kearns, James Doona, Ian Bermingham, Ben McCormack, David Titov.
Booked: Shane Griffin (16) ,Georgie Kelly (50).
Referee: Derek Tomney
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Jamie Lennon (St Patrick’s Athletic).