UCD Waves captain Chloe Mustaki directed her side’s operations against Cork. Picture: Alwyn Robinson

UCD Waves were denied a first league victory in two months as Cork City’s Katie McCarthy struck late to cancel out Leanne Payne’s second-half opener.

The home side led for just 15 minutes at Jackson Park, but they dominated the game from the start and, with more clinical finishing, would have already been out of sight when McCarthy struck.

In the end, it was Waves who were hanging on as injury time approached, and goalkeeper Erica Turner pulled off a couple of top-class saves to earn the Students a point.

This was UCD’s last game at the Stepaside venue before relocating to the UCD Bowl while the Jackson Park pitch is relayed, and the need for a fresh surface was plain to see.

The hard, dehydrated ground wasn’t ideal for the fluid, passing style UCD are looking to implement, but they had some joy early on with captain Chloe Mustaki the pivot in midfield.

Dearbhaile Beirne – shifted inside to the number 10 role from her usual position on the wing – looked UCD’s most lively attacking outlet during a subdued first half.

She created the first clear chance as she beat two players down the left and crossed low for Kerri Letmon, who turned the ball goalward, forcing Eve Badana to make a fine low save at her near post.

Another incisive run and cross from Beirne set Letmon up once more, but this time Maggie Duncliffe had tracked the run and she made a strong block.

Letmon had the best chance of the first half when Turner’s long free kick sent her through on goal but, having rounded Badana, she couldn’t steer her shot into the unguarded net and Ciara McNamara cleared the loose ball.

UCD upped the tempo after the break and Payne was frustrated to see her volley fly past the post, while Roisin McGovern wasn’t far off steering Aisling Dunbar’s free kick home.

Waves took the lead just past the hour and it was well-deserved, Payne pouncing on a defensive error before calmly slotting the ball past the advancing Badana.

City equalised against the run of play with their first real chance as McCarthy kept onside before latching onto a through ball and squeezing the ball low past Turner.

UCD should have led again immediately as Mustaki’s corner presented Beirne with a free header, but she glanced the ball wastefully past the post.

Duncliffe forced Turner into a spectacular save late as her furious striker was pushed up before bouncing onto the top of the crossbar.

Saoirse Noonan and McCarthy both had chances to nick it for Cork in injury time, either side of another poor finish from Payne, as the points were halved in south Dublin.

“I thought we played some good football,” UCD Waves manager Noel Kealy told the Dublin Gazette.

“We’ve been working on various things over the close period, and I have to say it’s a very disappointing draw.

“We were in the ascendancy. We dominated the game. You control a game like that and your finishing is poor, then you get a sucker punch like that towards the end.”