A Mark O’Sullivan finish ensured that Cork City FC head in to the mid-season break on a high, with a victory over Bray Wanderers at Turners Cross. The win ensured that City maintained their assault on the league title and keep their consistent run of positive results going.
City were to do things the hard way though, as a battling Bray side made life difficult at times throughout the game and they caused problems around the City goal on numerous occasions.
O’Sullvan’s 5th goal of the season gave the Leesiders the lead, while a crucial penalty save from Mark McNulty was as good as any goal for his side, as they maintain the pressure on league leaders Dundalk.
Cork were looking to head into the mid-season break on a high, keen to sustain the pressure on Dundalk. Since their defeat to last year’s champions back in April, City have recovered well and they were also hoping to keep their impressive for going at Turners Cross. Bray, who have turned a corner under their new boss Trevor Croly, were keen to maintain their status as being a tough nut for Cork City to crack and they did on occasions prove to be tricky opposition on the night.
The Rebel Army were again without the injured pair of John Dunleavy and Kieran Djilali, while Darren Dennehy missed out because of suspension. For the Seagulls Peter McGlynn missed out also because of suspension
The opening forty-five minutes was overall an entertaining fare and there was plenty of talking points in store as the half progressed. City were mainly on top for the majority of the opening half, but Bray were a threat when they went forward. This was a sign of the new found belief the Wicklow men have found under Croly.
Cork started with verve and a purpose to their game and they went close in the 5th minute, when a mazy run towards the box from John Kavanagh almost resulted in a goal for the home side.
Bray were keen to make life awkward for their hosts, and they had a half chance, when in the 15th minute, David Scully was unable to direct his volley from a Hugh Douglas cross past Mark McNulty in the City goal. They were also to go close, when David Scully’s low shot was saved. Just before the break, Ryan McEvoy’s shot from range rattled the post.
Overall though, it was Cork who were dictating the flow of the game, with their passing and control of the ball quite impressive at times.
In the 29th minute, City took the lead when O’Sullivan was on hand to clinically put the ball into an empty net, following a brilliant run and shot from Sheppard, which was saved by McGuinness. It was the former Avondale United man’s 5th goal of the season. O’Sullivan was to go close again just a few moments later, but he was unable to steer his header on target from the edge of the six yard box.
On the 43 minute mark, both sides were to see a man sent off. First Healy saw red for a bad challenge on Douglas, before Mitchell was given his marching orders for his involvement in the melee which followed the tackle.
The second half began with Cork seeking to build on their one goal lead, however Bray were putting together some neat passages of play, but they were unable to break down a stubborn Cork defence. Scully’s wide shot the closest they game in the first 15 minutes of the half. Bray did not look like a side that were near the bottom of the Premier Division table and they have plenty of source for encouragement with Croly in charge going into the second half of the season.
On the hour mark, Dennehy looked to score from one of his trademark free kicks from around 30 yards out, but the ball went into the wall. Gradually, the game started to open up again and more chances on goal were created as the half wore on.
In the 72nd minute, Bray were to be awarded a penalty when Buckley brought down Lyons in the box. Captain David Cassidy was to step up to take it, but the City number one was to dive correctly to the left and save brilliantly. Mc Nulty’s save was greeted like a goal had been scored, such was the importance of it for his side. That could be one of the moments that City could look back on come the end of the season which could be defining.
Bray were to make it a nervy ending for City, refusing to give up as they seeking to get a point from their trip to Leeside. In the final 10 minutes of the game, Chris Lyons went on a great run down the wing, unfortunately for him the shot was to go high and wide.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Kavanagh(Michael McSweeney, 64) , Alan Bennett, Dan Murray, Ross Gaynor; Kevin O’Connor, Billy Dennehy, Colin Healy , Garry Buckley; Mark O’Sullivan(Gavan Holohan, 68) , Karl Sheppard(Danny Morrissey, 54) .
Subs Not Used: Alan Smith(gk), John O’Flynn, Rob Lehane, Liam Kearney.
Booked: Kevin O’Connor(69).
Sent Off: Colin Healy(43).
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness ;Adam Mitchell, Alan McNally ,Hugh Douglas ,Michael Barker ;Ryan McEvoy ( Luke Gallagher, 81 ),Graham Kelly ,David Cassidy ( Emeka Onwubiko, 87 ), John Sullivan; David Scully(Peter Durrad,57) , Chris Lyons.
Subs Not Used: Brian Kane(gk) , Gareth McDonagh, Niall Cooney, James McDonnell.
Bookings: Hugh Douglas(54).
Sent Off: Adam Mitchell(43).
Referee: Jim McKell.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Mark McNulty(Cork City).