by Robert O'Reilly
A second half fightback from Cork City was enough to see them defeat eight man Drogheda United 4-1 tonight at Turners Cross.
The visitors took a shock lead after nine minutes through Lee Duffy but four unanswered second half goals and red cards for Shane Dunne, Alan Byrne and Daryl Kavanagh compounded a miserable night for United.
Drogs boss Johnny McDonnell made two changes from the side that defeated Bray Wanderers 4-2 on Friday with Cathal Brady and Dunne starting in place of Carl Walshe and the suspended Stephen Maher.
The visitors started the stronger as Daryl Kavanagh tested Mark McNulty in goal but his weak shot was easy for the Cork goalkeeper.
For only the third time this season, Drogheda were to strike first when on nine minutes a clinical counter attack saw Daryl Kavanagh find Brady on the wing and he cut back for Duffy who slotted the ball into the net.
It was almost 2-0 moments later as Daryl Kavanagh released Sean Brennan through on goal but McNulty stood tall to deny the midfielder his second goal in as many games.
Cork eventually began to come into the game as an attacking force and Micheál Schlingermann produced an outstanding save to deny Gavan Holohan a goal against his former side as he pushed the midfielder’s effort past the post.
City struggled to break down a compact and well organised Drogheda defence though United were fortunate to go in leading at the interval as Schlingermann first denied Sheppard and then parried Mark O’Sullivan’s powerful shot.
Last season’s runners-up were to level soon after the break as a foul by Byrne presented them with a free kick 25 yards from goal and Billy Dennehy made no mistake as he curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner of the goal.
It was almost déjà vu seconds later as Dunne fouled Holohan in a dangerous position but Billy Dennehy’s effort flew narrowly past Schlingermann’s far post.
All the momentum was with the hosts and they made their dominance count on 65 minutes when Billy Dennehy’s deliver was met on the volley by Sheppard who fired sweetly into the roof of the net past the hapless Schlingermann.
Substitute Sean Thornton came close to drawing Drogheda level against the run of play as his free kick was palmed away from goal by McNulty while the dangerous Duffy sent a shot across the face of goal.
Drogheda were reduced to ten men on 71 minutes when Dunne, who was already on a yellow card, was shown a straight red for a late tackle on John Kavanagh.
Things went from bad to worse for United as Byrne was wrongly adjudged to have handled Garry Buckley’s strike in the box, with the centre half receiving a second yellow card and Billy Dennehy sending Schlingermann the wrong way from the spot for 3-1.
With a two man advantage, Cork made sure of their victory in stoppage time as Billy Dennehy completed his hat trick by firing low past Schlingermann from the edge of the box.
Drogheda striker Daryl Kavanagh was shown a second yellow card after the final whistle meaning that it will be a depleted side that faces Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds on Saturday.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will make the long journey south tomorrow to face Cork City in a rescheduled game at Turners Cross, kick-off 7.45pm.
Drogheda picked up their first win in 10 games last Friday as they defeated Bray Wanderers 4-2 in a game where a couple of tactical tweaks at half time made the difference according to Drogheda manager Johnny McDonnell.
“We had enough chances to be level at half time but we told the lads to tighten up at the back and play on the front foot and that worked for us straight away. I don’t think either side were helped by the conditions and while the performance could have been better, the result was all that mattered.”
United had only picked up two point from the last 27 available though last Friday’s result has lifted them up to ninth in the table and despite not getting the desired results, McDonnell has been pleased with his side’s performances to date.
“The lads know that they have been playing alright throughout that run, with the exception of Longford, and they know that they have been close enough to getting over the line. We gave Shamrock Rovers a real game last week and I don’t think confidence has ever been an issue for the group.”
Tomorrow’s game has been brought forward by two months due to Cork’s participation in the Europa League meaning that the last meeting between the sides was less than a month ago, a 2-1 win for Cork at United Park.
March 2012 was the last time that Drogheda were victorious at Turners Cross and McDonnell believes that Friday’s win will give his players the necessary belief to return home with a positive result.
“It’s not ideal playing three times in a week again but we want to go there and put in a real performance. It’s a difficult place to go but we are coming off the back of a victory so we’ll fancy our chances. To come away with a result would be fantastic.”
Midfielder Stephen Maher will be missing for United through suspension though he would have been unavailable regardless due to a knee injury. Neil Yadolahi is the only other absentee.
Liam Miller (Garry Buckley 80)
Karl Sheppard (Danny Morrissey 69)
Mark O’Sullivan (Liam Kearney 84)
Cathal Brady (Carl Walshe 64)
Sean Brennan (Sean Thornton 40)
Lee Duffy (Tiarnan Mulvenna 83)