Saturday 22 October 2016

Leaders Dundalk stay six points clear of Cork

Dundalk 1 Cork City 1

Steven Beattie, Cork City, in action against Stephen O'Donnell, Dundalk
Richie Towell, Dundalk, celebrates scoring his side's first goal

Dundalk's six-point lead over Cork City at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division remained intact after both sides played out a scrappy 1-1 draw at Oriel Park.

Stephen Kenny's side were looking to bounce back from their Champions League exit to BATE Borisov four nights earlier, and they drew first blood when Richie Towell coolly beat Mark McNulty with an 11th minute penalty.

City, however, responded well to the early setback and Mark O'Sullivan got up to beat Andy Boyle in the air to power a stunning header past Gary Rogers with eight minutes remaining in the first half.

A scrappy second half saw both sides struggle to create scoring chances and a gripping encounter ended with a draw as the correct outcome. The solitary point is the first that Cork City have taken in the border town in two seasons and keeps their hopes of reeling Dundalk in alive but the Lilywhites, with a six point cushion, will feel they are firmly in the box seat to retain their crown.

An absorbing first half threw up plenty of talking points. Cork should have restored parity four minutes after Towell's penalty. Gartland's weak back pass was picked up by Karl Sheppard but his finish was weak and Gary Rogers saved with his legs.

The temperature continued to rise when Cork City manager John Caulfield was sent to the stands by referee Neil Doyle for disputing a Dundalk free kick.

The sides were level in the 37th minute. A bout of City possession ended with Chris Shields halting Steven Beattie's progress on the right and Kevin O'Connor's delivery was inch perfect for O'Sullivan (above) to guide a brilliant header past Rogers.

Quality football was a rare sight in the second half as both sides struggled to gain the upper hand.

Dundalk are expected to complete the signing of St Patrick's Athletic striker Ciaran Kilduff in the coming days and their need for reinforcements in the final third was highlighted when Kenny introduced midfielder John Mountney to play as a centre forward for the final 36 minutes.

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