Bohemians 0 Cork City 1
Keith Long warned his Bohemians players before last night's game at home to Cork City that this season would bring lows as well as highs.
And a Bohs side which had enjoyed their unexpected status as title challengers got a dose of reality with a 1-0 loss at home to Cork City, elation replaced by frustration for Bohs as they witnessed first hand the effect that a new manager can have on a club.
Cork played for the first time in four and a half years without the guidance of John Caulfield from the dugout and his interim replacement John Cotter, who had worked as Caulfield's No. 2, was able to mastermind a 1-0 win away to Bohs, defender Conor McCarthy with the only goal of the game, Cork the only side to have beaten Bohs this season, something they have now done twice.
Their most recent away games had seen Bohs win against Shamrock Rovers and Derry City but it was a rough night on home soil, Bohs lacking the guile needed to better a committed and hard-working Cork side, the Gypsies losing their unbeaten run, and run of clean sheets, a missed opportunity for Bohs - and Dundalk - in terms of closing the gap on leaders Shamrock Rovers.
Cotter's side deserve credit for turning around their own recent form which was of the relegation variety to get their first win in nine, but Bohs will wonder what happened to the spark which made them title contenders, pressure and possession unable to bring about a goal.
Recent weeks had been a struggle for Cork, causing the exit of manager Caulfield after a successful spell in charge, so interim boss Cotter was up against it up in Dublin, an added problem for City before a ball was kicked as left back Shane Griffin suffered an injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced in the starting XI.
And City had enough about them to come up with the first real chance of the game, James Tilley sending in a cross which was met by the head of Darragh Rainsford, but the effort was wide.
Bohs had a revival, of sorts, as central midfielder Daniel Mandroiu managed to get more of the ball and try to have an impact on the game, though the Cork back four were well protected by Conor McCormack. City almost played a part in their own downfall on 18 minutes as Seán McLoughlin mis-timed an attempt to clear a cross by Danny Grant, and Dan Casey had to clear.
Keith Long's side had plenty of the ball but were just lacking the spark and finesse which had earned them those wins and they found themselves 1-0 down after 22 minutes, Tilley with a free kick from the right and Conor McCarthy with the header which beat James Talbot, only the fifth goal let in by the ex-Sunderland man this season and only the second time that Bohs have conceded at home.
The goal came against the run of play but Bohs, for all their possession, were unable to carve out the chances needed to trouble Mark McNulty, a keeper who - unlike his counterpart Talbot - had largely forgotten what a clean sheet was, just one of those in his previous eight games.
Tilley threatened again and it took Bohs until the hour mark, and a storming run by wide man Grant, to spark into life.
A minute later Grant came up with another moment of danger, a cross which was met with a header by Devaney, but it was not enough to trouble McNulty in the City goal, while Mandriou tried to nick a goal with two long-range efforts in the last 15 minutes but was unable to pose enough of a threat, even four minutes of added time not enough to get past McNulty as the City defence coped in the face of adversity.