UCD recorded a 2nd win a row with a 3-1 win over Cork City at The Bowl on Friday night.
By Ryan Bailey
UCD made it two wins in a row as they beat Cork City on Friday evening at the UCD Bowl.
The result means Martin Russell’s side leapfrog Dundalk having played a game more at the foot of the Airtricity League.
A header from Mick Leahy after just nine minutes set the Students on their way, only to be pegged back shortly afterwards when Keigan Parker leveled for the visitors but an own goal and a superb second half strike from Robbie Benson set the home side on their way to three points.
UCD were forced into a change from last week’s away win at Shelbourne as Paul Corry was suspended, so Barry McCabe replaced the Irish U21 international in midfield while James Kavanagh dropped to the bench for Sean Russell in the only other change from last Friday’s game.
It didn’t seem as though the home side were missing Corry in the centre of midfield as they took control of the game from the outset. Dean Clarke, fresh from an excellent performance last week, made an early burst down the right and held it up well before laying it off to Paul O’Conor but his shot went high and wide.
It was a frantic opening to the game and the visitors should have gone in front with their first attack. Keigan Parker was set through on goal and looked likely to score but for a last ditch block by Dave O’Connor and moments later the striker saw his close range volley go inches over the bar from Daryl Horgan’s cross.
The Rebels were made to pay for their missed chances as UCD took the lead inside ten minutes. David McMillan went on a good run down the right before unleashing an unstoppable shot but the slightest of touches from Mark McNulty and the post kept it out.
The visitors managed to scramble it out for a corner but from the resulting set piece, skipper Mick Leahy rose highest to head past the Cork shot stopper from seven yards.
The visitors were dealt a blow after twenty minutes when John Dunleavy went down after crossing the ball from the right and immediately looked in agony. The stretcher was called for but the Cork right-back hobbled off and it was later confirmed he went to hospital for a scan. He was treated on the side of the pitch by medical staff from both teams.
Keith Quinn came on for his City debut and made an instant impact as Tommy Dunne’s side restored parity on 23 minutes. Quinn’s ball in behind the UCD defence was latched onto by Parker and he superbly lobbed the advancing Mark McGinley from the edge of the box.
Despite finding themselves level, the Students continued to create goal scoring chances and were inches away from retaking the lead after 26 minutes when Robbie Benson headed O’Conor’s corner goal wards but Danny Murphy cleared his effort off the line.
The Leesiders defence was at sixes and sevens at the back from set pieces and College took full advantage shortly after the half hour mark. O’Conor once again sent in an in-swinger from the left and under pressure from Hugh Douglas, the unfortunate Andy O’Connell bundled the ball into his own goal.
Barry McCabe got the nod in midfield and could have got his name on the score sheet after more fine play from Clarke but his glancing header was well saved by McNulty.
The second half started in a scrappy fashion as both sides settled back into the game but it was the home side who once again saw most of the ball as they pushed for the killer third goal. A succession of quick corners tested the Cork rear guard and Dave McMillan thought he scored his second in two games when he fired home for close range but the referee had already blown for an infringement from the set piece.
It wasn’t long in coming but the Students wrapped up the three points on 68 minutes after some individual brilliance by Dave McMillan. The striker evaded Dan Murray before laying it off for the on-rushing Robbie Benson who smashed it past McNulty via the post from the edge of the area.
Cork used all three of their changes in a bid to rescue something from the game but were restricted to long range efforts which never really troubled McGinley. However, Daryl Horgan should have made it a nervy last ten minutes but the winger couldn’t direct his header on target from just a few yards when it looked easier to score.
Substitute Danny Ledwith could have sealed the win in the closing minutes after a brisk counter attack but his low drive was well saved by McNulty.
The victory means UCD now move ahead of relegation rivals Dundalk by one point but the County Louth side have a game in hand. Up next for the Students is a trip West to face league leaders Sligo on Monday evening and then on Friday, focus turns to the FAI cup when Derry City are the visitors to the UCD Bowl.
UCD: Mark McGinley; Hugh Douglas, Mick Leahy (c), David O’Connor, Ciaran Nangle; Sean Russell (Gary Burke 82’), Barry McCabe (Daniel Ledwith 67’), Paul O’Conor, Dean Clarke; Robbie Benson, Dave McMillan
Subs not used: Ger Barron, Tomas Boyle, Chris Lyons, Tyrone McNelis, James Kavanagh
Bookings: Dave McMillan (23’), Mick Leahy (56’), Hugh Douglas (75’)
Cork: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy (Keith Quinn 20’), Dan Murray, Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Ian Turner, Shane Duggan, Gearoid Morrisey, Daryl Horgan; Andy O’Connell (Davin O’Neill 60’), Keigan Parker (Vinny Sullivan 69’)
Subs not used: Paul White, Gavin Kavanagh, Kevin Murray, Brian Lenihan
Bookings: Danny Murphy (52’), Vinny Sullivan (93’)
ucdsoccer.com Man of the Match: David McMillan