Report: Cork City 2-1 Sligo Rovers
A hard working Sligo Rovers were unfortuante to fall to defeat at the hands of Cork City on Friday night as they were beaten 2-1 at Turner's Cross in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Danny Ledwith had initially put the away side into the lead with a strike from distance on the half hour mark, but early second half goals from Mark O'Sullivan and Billy Dennehy turned the tie around for the Leesiders.
The Rebels had net minder Mark McNulty to thank late on as he saved an 87th minute penalty from Danny North, after Michael McSweeney was adjudged to have fouled Ruairi Keating inside the City penalty area.
Despite keeping Sligo in their own half early on, Cork were lucky not to concede nine minutes in when a lapse in concentration from Dan Murray led to Sligo winger Raf Cretaro stealing the ball from the toe of the Londoner. The winger found enough space to tee up the waiting Paul O'Conor who saw his shot blocked away by a City defender. The ball broke to Rovers striker North, but he too was thwarted a brave block, this time from Darren Dennehy.
Indeed, Cork should have found the game's opener from a quick counter from the resulting corner. North conceded possession from a short corner before play eventually ended up with Mark O'Sullivan on the right wing. His cross to the front post was met by the head of Garry Buckley, but the midfielder was unlucky to see his effort cannon back off Gary Rogers' goal frame.
Sligo went close again on 16 as they began to outfight City in all departments. Cretaro's cross from the left found Eamon Zayed who in turn chested the ball into the path of North, but the Grimsby man could only find the Joe Delaney stand behind Mark McNulty's goal.
The 20th minute saw Sligo's turn to strike the woodwork. Following another mishap from Murray, Zayed found himself one-on-one with McNulty, but Murray atoned for his error by doing just enough to get a touch on the Libyan international's shot with a last ditch tackle. The ball looping over McNulty, before hitting the crossbar.
Rovers' David Cawley went close with efforts from distance on 22 and 26 minutes respectively, while Buckley forced Rogers into a good save shortly after.
Sligo then deservedly opened the lead on the half hour mark. From what looked like a safe position as far as Cork were concerned, Rovers full back Danny Ledwith unleashed an unstoppable drive from 30 yards which seemed to surprise McNulty before hitting the net, much to the dismay of the home crowd. This was the former Shamrock Rovers man's fourth league goal of the season.
The Bit o'Red almost doubled their lead on 37. The roaming Gary Boylan found space on the Sligo right side before delivering an excellent cross on to the head of Zayed, who nodded narrowly wide while under considerable pressure from Murray. The away side leading at the break.
Then came the move which won the game. Rebels boss John Caulfield introduced John O'Flynn to play alongside fellow striker Mark O'Sullivan nine minutes into the second half as City adjusted formation.
The substitution paid dividends three minutes later as both players combined and Cork levelled the game. O'Sullivan latched on to the end of an O'Flynn flick inside the Rovers six yard box to poke the ball past the slow to react Rogers and into the Sligo net.
Cork were putting Rovers under heavy pressure and went ahead in the 63rd minute as Billy Dennehy broke down the Cork left. Having seen off the challenge of Boylan, the winger expertly placing the ball low and hard beyond the reach of Rogers.
The reigning FAI and Setanta Sports Cup holders had to work off scraps for the remainder of the game. Zayed nodded wide from a Gary Armstrong cross on 71 as Sligo did their utmost to make life difficult for City.
Rovers were then offered a golden opportunity to level the tie on 87. Substitute Michael McSweeney's clumsy challenge on Sligo striker Ruairi Keating saw referee Neil Doyle point to the spot, but Cork goalkeeper Mark McNulty kept cool to deny Danny North from twelve yards as he confidently saved the striker's spot kick low down to his right. Much to the delight of the majority of the 3,077 supporters in attendance.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Gearoid Morrisey, Dan Murray, Ross Gaynor; Billy Dennehy, Colin Healy, Darren Dennehy, Garry Buckley (for Michael McSweeney 80), Josh O'Shea ((John O'Flynn 54) (for Dave O'Leary 90)) ; Mark O'Sullivan.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Gary Boylan, Gavin Peers, Evan McMillan, Danny Ledwith; Raffaele Cretaro, David Cawley, Paul O'Conor (for Gary Armstrong 64), Seamus Conneely; Eamon Zayed (for Ruairi Keating 75), Danny North.
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)