Friday 19 January 2018

Towell cleans up for league leaders


THAT'S why they're champions - Dundalk have shown yet again that they have not only the talent to win a league but also the hunger to retain that title with a 2-1 win away to closest challengers Cork City.

Away from home, in front of a partisan crowd of 6,900 and a goal down after 31 minutes, Stephen Kenny's side dug deep and displayed admirable character as a goal just on either side of the half time whistle from Richie Towell gave Dundalk the win which extended their lead at the top of the table to five points.

"It's something in the boots," said a beaming Towell, refrering to the fact that he's hit form in front of goal since he was sent a new pair of footwear.

"The second half was a real battle, Cork are a tough side, it was never going to be easy down here. They are going to be right up there this season so it was important for us to take points off them. We're just delighted to have come here and got the win."

Cork came into the game with a blemish-free home record this season - four wins and four clean sheets at Turner's Cross - and their early form showed just why they're so strong, Karl Sheppard going close on two minutes, and both sides appeared to have taken a positive approach into the game.

But City needed to re-think their game plan just 19 minutes into the game when key man John Dunleavy was stretchered off, the Donegal native landing awkwardly after he tried to win a header and he was replaced by Garry Buckley.

Dundalk stepped things up and City had a narrow escape on 27 minutes when ex-Cork player Daryl Horgan, booed by the home fans at Turner's Cross, struck the crossbar with a well-struck shot.

But Cork took the lead on 31 minutes with Billy Dennehy's fourth goal of the season. He was close to the touchline when he swung in a cross, and with a lack of communication between Dundalk defender Andy Boyle and his keeper Gary Rogers, the ball went into the net.

Dundalk drew level with the last kick of the first half, Towell calmly finishing from close range after Cork keeper McNulty had tried to punch away a corner.

And the second half was less than two minutes old when Towell put Dundalk in front from the penalty spot. Cork had no complaints when they were penalised for Darren Dennehy's foul on David McMillan in the box and Towell was coolness personified as he sent home the spot kick.

Cork could have been 3-1 down on 65 minutes as a McMillan shot came off the post, but when a Sheppard effort in the closing minutes went went wide, it was just not going to go Cork's way as the night belonged to Towell.

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