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Sweet 16! Cork City forced to come from behind to extend their lead

Kevin O’Connor scored directly from a corner to send City 16 points clear at the top of the Premier Division.

Cork City's Karl Sheppard battling for possession with Regan Donelon of Sligo Rovers.
Cork City's Karl Sheppard battling for possession with Regan Donelon of Sligo Rovers.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Sligo Rovers 1
Cork City 2

Jessica Farry reports from The Showgrounds

CORK CITY CAME from behind at The Showgrounds to stretch their unbeaten run to 18 games in all competitions this season, while extending their lead at the summit of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division to 16 points.

Sligo Rovers went ahead in the first half thanks to a Kieran Sadlier penalty, and it looked like it could be their night when Sean Maguire sent his second-half spot-kick wide of the target.

But Achille Campion came back to haunt his former club, scoring for the visitors on 64 minutes, before Kevin O’Connor made it 2-1 to the league leaders.

Rovers came into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw with St. Patrick’s Athletic, whereas City were fresh from a 5-0 victory over Drogheda United on Friday night, which left them 13 points clear at the top of the table.

John Caulfield’s side, who are yet to suffer defeat this season, really should have taken the lead after two minutes. An excellent cross from Stephen Dooley should have ended up in the back of the net following contact with Jimmy Keohane.

However, a point-blank save from Micheal Schlingermann cleared the danger. His clearance fell to Karl Sheppard, but again the Mayo man was on hand to pull off a fine save.

Kieran Sadlier celebrates scoring their first goal from a penalty Kieran Sadlier celebrates after putting Sligo ahead. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Sligo have seen an improvement of sorts since the appointment of Gerard Lyttle, and as they settled into the game they were looking more comfortable on the ball.

They were well deserving of their lead when referee Rob Hennessy pointed to the spot after Alan Bennett was deemed to have fouled Liam Martin in the box.

Sadlier, who is enjoying an impressive run of form for the Bit o’Red, sent Mark McNulty the wrong way on 23 minutes to give the hosts the lead.

Sligo didn’t sit back on their lead and went agonisingly close just minutes later. Raff Cretaro shook off both Bennett and Johnny Dunleavy, finding team-mate Jonah Ayunga in space across the box. The striker’s pile-driver was forced wide by an excellent finger-tip save from McNulty.

Cretaro and Martin tested the City defence in the latter stages of the first half, but both were denied an opportunity to put double Sligo’s advantage.

John Caufield’s men were struggling to make their presence felt at the beginning of the second half, but they were handed a lifeline when Sheppard was taken down in the box by Kyle Callan-McFadden.

Most would have put their house on the in-form Maguire to from the penalty spot, but he sent it wide of Schlingermann’s post.

The visitors pushed on from there, however, and eventually found the net on 64 minutes through former Sligo Rovers man Campion. The Frenchman was a 61st-minute substitute and netted shortly after his introduction when he got on the end of a Dunleavy cross.

Kevin O’Connor and Kyle Callan-McFadden Kyle Callan-McFadden of Sligo Rovers attempts from block a cross from Cork City's Kevin O'Connor. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Cork began to stretch the Rovers rearguard and while the hosts somehow managed to sustain a period of severe pressure, they would eventually succumb.

On 81 minutes, Kevin O’Connor’s corner evaded the Sligo defence and somehow crept into the back of the net to seal victory.

Sligo Rovers: Micheal Schlingermann, Gary Boylan, Michael Leahy, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Regan Donelon, Liam Martin, Chris Kenny, Craig Roddan, Kieran Sadlier, Raff Cretaro (Martin Walsh, 74), Jonah Ayunga (Mikey Place, 64).

Cork City: Mark McNulty, John Dunleavy, Ryan Delaney, Alan Bennett, Kevin O’Connor, Greg Bolger, Conor McCormack (Achille Campion, 61), Jimmy Keohane, Stephen Dooley (John Kavanagh, 93), Sean Maguire, Karl Sheppard (Shane Griffin, 87).

Referee: Robert Hennessy

Updated at 21.53

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Jessica Farry

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