Limerick FC take huge step towards safety with superb 2-1 win over Cork City.
Limerick FC secured a surprising 2-1 victory over champions-elect Cork City at the Markets Field on Friday night courtesy of early goals from Rodrigo Tosi and a superb Shane Tracy free-kick. Shortly after, Kieran Sadlier pulled a goal back for Cork but the Shannonsiders held out for a crucial victory in their bid to remain in the premier division.
Cork started the better of the two teams and ex-Limerick defender Robbie Williams almost scored on his return only for club stalwart Shane Tracy to deny the centre-back’s header on the goal line.
Williams gifted his former employers and teammates the opening goal as he failed to control a hopeful ball forward and allowed Brazilian Rodrigo Tosi to intercept and delightfully chip Mark McNulty in the Cork goal.
Limerick’s dream start got even better as the aforementioned Shane Tracy curled a beautiful free-kick into the corner of the net from 25 yards out. The goal sent the home crowd into raptures.
Cork looked shell shocked but just 5 minutes later, the visitors halved the deficit. Stephen Dooley was allowed far too much time to deliver a back post cross which the onrushing Kieran Sadlier headed into the net.
Sadlier almost turned provider for Jimmy Keohane but the latter failed to steer his back post header on target. Approaching half-time, the Leesiders should have been level as a diagonal ball from Robbie Williams was misjudged by young Limerick right-back Barry Cotter but Kieran Sadlier placed a shot straight at the onrushing Brendan Clarke.
The half-time introduction of Garry Buckley for Cork certainly provided more threat and his shot from the edge of the box had to be pushed to safety by Clarke. Two minutes later, clever play from Stephen Dooley set up Karl Shephard but the former Reading man blasted his effort against the side netting.
At this point, Limerick were beginning to retreat deep into their own half which was a worry. However, manager Neil McDonald bravely persisted with Rodrigo Tosi and Chiedozie Ogbene as the attacking outlet. Ogbene in particular, won numerous free-kicks to ease the pressure on his team and the former Cork player was the reason for four Cork players being cautioned.
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Cork had an abundance of corners on the night which has certainly been an Achilles heel this year for Limerick. However, experienced goalkeeper Brendan Clarke claimed several crosses and prevented uncertainty among his defenders.
Limerick had introduced Dean Clarke in place of Barry Cotter at half-time in order to nullify the threat of Kieran Sadlier who caused the Super Blues problems all evening. Apart from an early mistake, Clarke excelled at the job and managed to block a Sadlier shot at the back post when it looked destined for the net.
In the dying moments, Cork supporters must have thought that they salvaged a draw as Shane Griffin delivered a perfectly waited cross in Kieran Sadlier’s direction but the former Sligo Rovers player somehow headed over the bar with a free header from 6 yards out.
The victory owed much to the defensive shape and organisation which was evident tonight. Bastien Hery covered a lot of ground and made vital interceptions and tackles all evening. Furthermore, Dave O’Connor was solid in defence, winning many aerial duels.
Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke, Barry Cotter (Dean Clarke H/T), Tony Whitehead, Dave O’Connor, Shane Tracy, Bastien Hery, Shane Duggan, Lee-J Lynch, Stephen Kenny (Joe Crowe 78), Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi (Peter Berki 83)
Subs not used: Freddy Hall, Killian Brouder, Henry Cameron, John O’Flynn.
Yellow Cards: Chiedozie Ogbene (36)
Red Cards: None
Cork City: Mark McNulty, Steven Beattie (Garry Buckley H/T), Robbie Williams, Ryan Delaney, Shane Griffin, Gearoid Morrissey, Greg Bolger (Conor Ellis 69), Jimmy Keohane, Kieran Sadlier, Stephen Dooley (Achille Campion 88).
Subs Not used: Alan Smith, Alan Bennett, Conor McCormack, Conor McCarthy.
Yellow Cards: Greg Bolger (13), Steven Beattie (36), Karl Shephard (88), Robbie Williams (90+2)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Sean Grant
Sporting Limerick Man of the Match: Bastien Hery (Limerick FC)