File photo of Max Mata. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
honours even

Contentious penalty earns Sligo comeback draw against Cork City

It finished 2-2 at the Showgrounds.

Sligo Rovers 2 

Cork City 2 

Jessica Farry reports from The Showgrounds 

SLIGO ROVERS CAME from 2-0 down to snatch a point against Cork City at The Showgrounds on Saturday night.

City were 2-0 ahead after 64 minutes, but a late resurgence from the Bit O’Red saw them get a point at the death. Both sides have had mixed starts to the season, with Sligo Rovers winning two, drawing one and losing one. City drew 4-4 with champions Shamrock Rovers on Monday night, their first draw with one win and two defeats among their results this season.

Sligo manager John Russell made two changes to the side that beat St Patrick’s Athletic on Monday night, with John Mahon suspended, while Niall Morahan dropped to the bench with Eanna Clancy and Lukas Browning coming into the team.

Colin Healy made three changes to the team that drew with the Hoops on Monday. Aaron Bolger missed out following a head injury, while Gordon Walker and Cian Bargary dropped to the bench. Ethon Varian, Kevin Custovic and Jonas Hakkinen came into the team.

City were 3-2 winners the last time these two sides met at The Showgrounds, an FAI Cup tie in 2020.

In what was a fairly even opening, Rovers were first to try their luck with RB Leipzig loanee Fabrice Hartmann’s powerful drive flying inches over the bar.

With 18 minutes on the clock, the Leesiders went ahead. After Rovers failed to clear the corner, Ruairi Keating’s shot was headed over the line by Hakkinen with his first of the season.

The hosts enjoyed the bulk of possession for the remainder of the half, but could not get close enough to really trouble Jimmy Corcoran in City’s goals. The Bit O’Red looked full of energy after the re-start, but were stunned when former player Ruairi Keating made it 2-0.

A quick turn from the Keating caught the Rovers defence off-guard, and his low effort trickled into the net. City’s lead looked comfortable, as their defensive structure and organisation was making life difficult for the hosts who had all the possession.

But Russell’s side got a glimmer of hope with 11 minutes to go. Johan Brannefalk’s corner fell nicely for the youngster who drove his shot into the net.

Rovers had renewed hope, and battled on for the closing stages with all the momentum.
City were hanging on, wit Nando Pijnaker forcing a good save from Jimmy Corcoran as the 90 minutes approached.

And in injury-time, Rovers made it 2-2.

Kailin Barlow was awarded a contentious penalty as he went down in the box. Max Mata made no mistake from the spot, scoring his fourth of the season in injury time as City’s hopes of a second win were dashed.

Sligo Rovers: Luke McNicholas; Johan Brannefalk, Eanna Clancy, Nando Pijnaker, Reece Hutchinson; Greg Bolger (Kailin Barlow HT), Lukas Browning; Fabrice Hartmann, Will Fitzgerald (Frank Liivak 69); Stefan Radosavljevic (Bogdan Vastsuk 69); Max Mata.

Cork City: Jimmy Corcoran; Kevin Custovic, Jonas Hakkinen, Ali Gilchrist, Joshua Honohan; Darragh Crowley (Albin Winbo 56), Matthew Healy (Joe Whitmarsh 81), Cian Coleman, Ethon Varian; Daniel Krezic (Cian Bargary HT); Ruairi Keating (Babatune Owolabi 69).

Referee: Arnold Hunter

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