Cork City let slip a two goal lead to go down 2-3 at home to Drogheda United.
Cork City FC 2 – 3 Drogheda United
Drogheda created the first clear cut chance of the game inside the first two minutes with Hynes forcing a smart close range save from Mark McNulty with the rebound cleared in the nick of time by Danny Murphy.
McNulty made another superb save on six minutes from McElvaney with Drogheda well on top and finding their way through almost at will as they exploited the home side’s lack of pace at the back.
City’s Davin O’Neill then shot just wide on eight minutes after a good cross from Vinny Sullivan. The home side were lucky not to be one (or two) down on 16 minutes when Shane O’Connor cleared a Derek Prendergast shot off the line from a corner. Horgan then proceeded to play the ball up field for Horgan to run onto; he held off his man, before finishing low into the corner.
The goal came however totally against the run of the play; with the home side lucky not to be two down before taking the lead. Drogs forced another fine save from McNulty when it would have been easier to score.
Moments later; Gannon’s low cross fell to Hand whose flick was parried across the goal by the home ‘keeper. Drogheda had another chance on 20 minutes; when a 2o yard free-kick flew just over the top. City then had their second chance of the game with a 25 yard pile driver was well save by visiting ‘keeper Sava and was quickly on his feet to snaffle up the rebound.
City were holding their breath again on the midway point of the first half: Hynes fizzed a ball across the City box with Mulvenna firing low and inches wide from 12 yards when he seemed certain to score. Quite incredibly it was still 1-0 to the home side on 25 minutes.
Amazingly; City were 2-0 up on 33 minutes, when Horgan was played through with a lovely ball from Davin O’Neill.
The former Sligo man whipped a fine ball across the box and Vinny Sullivan was on hand to hold off his man and sweep home from six yards.
Drogheda had another chance five minutes from the break with Mulvenna once again screwing over the top from well inside the home box. Drogheda were deservedly back in the game three minutes from the short whistle when a cross from Gavin Brennan fooled everybody; Hynes played the ball past ‘keeper McNulty and Mulvenna stabbed the ball into the net, though it seemed to already be over the goal line. The goal is credited to the latter however.
Half-time: Cork City 2-1 Drogheda United. A first-half when the home side could easily have been two down; they ended up converting twice from three chances with the visitors unlucky to only score once from five clear cut chances.
City seemed to be coming into it at the start of the second half and Vinny Sullivan was disappointed to see his 18 yarder fly over the top on 49 minutes. Despite their good start to the half it was Drogheda who levelled matters on53 minutes when Gavin Brennan was fouled by Danny Murphy. It appeared a harsh decision from ref Buttimer as Murphy seemed to get some of the ball but Mulvenna didn’t care and stepped up to bang home his and Drogheda’s second; much to the chagrin of the Shed End. Over the course of play, it was no more than the visitors deserved.
The home side were down to ten men two minutes later with the hitherto lively Shane Duggan given a straight red card for violent conduct after a skirmish with Brian Gannon. Shane O’Connor became the second home player to be given a yellow card (after Vinny Sullivan) on the hour, for doing nothing at all really. This was not one of referee Buttimer’s finer performance.
The visitors nearly took the lead on 65 minutes when Hynes broke the offside trap, but the advancing McNulty spread himself full length to make a fantastic save. One minute later; the visitors’ captain Alan McNally thumped the underside of the crossbar from 25 yards and the home side were hanging on with quarter of the game to play. The Drogs were deservedly in front on 72 minutes when a corner from Hand wasn’t cleared and the ball eventually re-directed off City centre-half Gavin Kavanagh before bobbling over the goal-line.
City threw caution to the wind on 75 minutes with striker Purcell coming on for winger Shane O’Connor who was looking out of sorts. Five minutes from time, returning Murray almost brought the house down by crashing a shot from 12 yards out which was deflected just wide. City huffed and puffed in the closing stages but was lucky not to fall further behind deep into injury-time with home ‘keeper McNulty pulling off a great save when one-on-one with the effervescent Hynes.
From there the Drogs weathered whatever the home side had to throw at them and were good value for their win. Had City not had a player sent off before the hour mark, things could have been different however. Shane Duggan had looked very likely before getting his marching orders.
With no points from an opening two games; things are only going to get more difficult from here with champions Shamrock Rovers visiting the Cross next week – followed by a trip to the Brandywell to face Derry for the Leesiders.
On this evidence, it looks like it’s going to be a difficult first season back in the top flight for the Rebel Army.
A disappointing result for the home side but an eventful 95 minutes was completed with not one but two streakers taking to the pitch when the final whistle blew!
Cork City (4-4-2): 1 Mark McNulty; 2 Ian Turner 3 Danny Murphy 17 Dan Murray 4 Stephen Mulcahy 5 Gavin Kavanah; 6 Gearóid Morrissey 7 Colin Healy 8 Shane Duggan 9 Davin O’Neill; 23 Daryl Horgan
Drogheda United (4-4-2): 1 Gabriel Sava; 6 Mark O’Brien 3 Philip Hand 4 Derek Prendergast 5 Alan McNally (C); 8 Ryan Brennan 9 Tiernan Mulvenna 11 Gavin Brennan 12 Shane Grimes; 15 Peter Hynes 17 Brian Gannon
Referee: Richie Winter (Dublin)