LOI first Division – UCD 0 / CORK CITY 0
BY DAVE DONNELLY
UCD manager Andy Myler insists it’s far too early to look at the league table as the Students make the short trip north to face league leaders Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Friday night.
A win of any description will see College end the first series of games on top of the table, but defeat would allow the Reds to open up what would, even at this early stage, be a substantial five-point lead.
The pair have been virtually inseparable this season as they’ve emerged as the two early frontrunners for the title but the Students couldn’t find away past an improving City side.
A second-half comeback from Shelbourne away to Cobh Ramblers 24 hours later saw the Reds move two points clear as they prepare to host Andy Myler’s side.
“It’s still early days in the season, and who’s top now may not matter with 27 games gone,” Myler told the Dublin Gazette.
“For us, it’s about us performing and not really focusing on who we’re playing. It’ll be a great game, going to Tolka with a good pitch, good club, good team, so we’ll enjoy that.
“That will bring out the best in us and hopefully we get a performance. It doesn’t matter whether it’s home or away, we approach it the same way.”
Myler was satisfied with the performance of his side in Belfield on Friday night in spite of their failure to turn possession into clear chances.
An improving City side, who have now taken seven points from their last three games without conceding a goal, were compact and created the best chance in both halves.
UCD were grateful to Carl Williams – making his first appearance in goal for three years in place of the rested Lorcan Healy – for a string of top-class saves to keep the scores level.
Williams showed wonderful reactions to palm away Jack Walsh’s bullet header early on, and defender Harvey O’Brien threw his body in the way to deny Darragh Crowley from the rebound.
The Students had all the possession but found a City side that had switched to three at the back to match their shape very difficult to break down.
Top scorer Colm Whelan looked their most likely route to goal and he showed great feet to weave clear in the box, but he pulled his shot wide from a tight angle.
He went closer five minutes before half time but he failed to find the target once more, this time whipping a vicious shot from the edge of the box inches over the bar.
City were having no trouble finding the target and it took another great save from Williams to tip Cian Bargary’s vicious shot over the bar.
The keeper’s luck was in after the break as he dropped a corner at the feet of Cian Murphy but recovered excellently to smother the striker’s shot from close range.
“I’m not too disappointed overall with the result or the point. I said it to the boys afterwards that a lot of the performances were good, but Cork played well as well.
“We probably shaded it overall for possession but Cork came, they were well set-up, and they made it difficult for us, particularly during the first half.
“City are the one team who I thought could definitely match our fitness and stay the 90 minutes with us and we knew that beforehand. We said it to the lads they’d still be there at the end.
“We had a lot of the ball in the first half and we’re probably a little bit disappointed at the end of the first half we didn’t make more of it and have a bit more composure.
“It was the kind of night where you were just looking for a break, for something to happen, a corner kick or free kick, and we didn’t get that.
“It’s important when you can’t win a game that you don’t lose a game. We would have lost the game by the odd goal and possibly more last season, so it’s pleasing to see.”
Pictures by John Crothers