A LUCKY penalty which was expertly taken by Davin O’Neill helped the Cobhman complete his second hat-trick of the season as Cork City maintain their recent run of good results with a two-goal victory over a gallant UCD side at a rain-soaked Turner’s Cross last night.
City led two one at the break thanks to a superb strike from Daryl Horgan, and a first goal of the night after 37 minutes from O’Neill.
But with the game tied at two goals a piece after 80 minutes and City struggling after conceding a sloppy equaliser following a superbly-struck free kick by UCC’s Paul Corry which Paul O’Connor poked home after reacting quickest when the ball came back off the crossbar, City got a huge slice of luck.
Referee James McKell penalised UCD’s centre half Hugh Douglas for slipping on the ball in the box, which was a definite case of ball to hand, rather than hand to ball.
City took no chances this week. Purcell missed from the spot against Pat’s last Friday and O’Neill slotted it home with a great penalty to make it 3-2 and put City back in control
He completed his hat-trick in injury time when UCD’s reserve goalkeeper Mark McGinley allowed the ball to drop out of his hands and O’Neill reacted well and rounded McGinley to slip the ball into an empty net to seal a good win for City.
On another miserable night at the Cross the City faithful are continuing to get great value and entertainment.
Again more than 2,400 were on hand to see them score their 18th home goal of the season, while the defensive errors of a few weeks ago are being cut out.
Once again though, City mixed the good with the bad.
Defensively they are beginning to look very strong, particularly in the middle with Kalen Spillane and John Dunleavy working very well together.
Full-back Colin Healy, who captained the side on the day 10 years ago when he was notified by Mick McCarthy that he was to fly out to the World Cup following the Roy Keane incident in Saipan, gave a strong and solid display once again, while Danny Murphy at left-back completed the solid back line, who now look very comfortable defending.
Both full-backs were excellent going forward also.
City’s midfield duo of Duggan and Morrissey cant be faulted for their workrate.
However, they did get caught out at times with both of them going forward, or dropping back together.
One of them needs to stay back while the other one goes forward and visa versa.
I also think both of them still need to look for the ball a lot more from throw balls, or from their full backs.
Also as two young midfielders they should want to get into the box more.
City are firing in great crosses from the wings and either Duggan or Morrissey should be arriving late looking to meet the ball in the box — ala Paul Scholes or a young Roy Keane while at Forest.
Looking at the wingers performance, O’Neill completed his second hat-trick of the season, while Horgan, who did score a great goal to open the scoring, had a mixed game overall, giving the ball away 10 times, but his work rate and his finish, more than made up for his sometimes sloppy distribution.
Up front Purcell and Sullivan worked hard throughout however, Purcell’s lack of speed was quite evident at times and on numerous occasions it cost City some goal scoring chances.
Overall, Dunne should be pleased with how his team is shaping up.
Since the start of the season City had been making defensive error after error which cost them valuable points.
However, it was good not to see any major defensive errors last night.
Even though Dunleavy gave away a penalty he was excellent, and I believe on another night with drier conditions this may have being avoided and the call was harsh.
On the other hand, Spillane, while very strong at centre half, still continues to whack the ball long too often giving away possession nine times.
Although in his defence as already stated, maybe he isn’t being given the option of the short pass to his central midfielders.
Also last night while the back line looked very solid defensively, there were times when they did get a bit sloppy.
Possession is the name of the game and City keep giving the ball back to their opponents.
Danny Murphy did so seven times however, to be fair to him five of those came in the last 10 minutes when City were under a lot of pressure and Murphy was just whipping the ball clear.
Once again, maybe the two midfielders could have looked for the short pass from the full back.
Ian Turner was introduced for Horgan with 20 minutes to go.
He offered City a bit of pace when he came on, and I think if Dunne could find someone up front with pace they would score a lot more goals.
To be fair to City their work rate was excellent last night.
They can’t be faulted for defending. As a team they were superb however, while they have plenty of men behind the ball they don’t close it down quick enough.
They let UCD run at them, as they played a little too deep allowing UCD to pass the ball quite a bit throughout the game.
Against top sides they will be punished for that.
Overall, it was a good win for City. Getting a bit of luck on the 80th minute with the referee’s decision to award them with a penalty probably helped turn the game around, however, UCD’s equalising goal from a Danny Murphy’s conceded free kick hadn’t being a free kick either, so you could say it balanced one another out.
With Drogheda on Monday away it will be a another test for them and their new-found confidence.