Europa League: Cork City’s night ends in frustration
Alan Bennett’s opener quickly cancelled out by KR Reykjavik while late penalty appeal is not given
Cork City players Mark O’Sullivan and Billy Dennehy square up to each other after the 1-1 draw with KR Reykjavik in the first leg of the Europa Cup first qualifying round. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Cork City were held at Turner’s Cross by KR Reykjavik on their first European fixture since 2008. Alan Bennett gave the hosts an early lead, but their Icelandic opponents hit back almost immediately through Oscar Hauksson.
City boss John Caulfield made a number of changes from the team that defeated Derry City 2-0, opting for the experience of John O’Flynn over Mark O’Sullivan, who is untried at this level, while Colin Healy resumed his place in midfield at the expense of Dan Murray. Interestingly, there was a place on the bench for City captain John Dunleavy, after the Donegal native made a full recovery from a knee injury.
City took the lead against the run of play with Bennett rising highest in the centre of the box to guide Billy Dennehy’s floated free kick past Logi Magnusson on 19 minutes. The goal sent the Turner’s Cross faithful into raptures, but they were soon silenced when Hauksson powered in the equaliser from Jacob Schoop’s pin-point corner 10 minutes later.
Having conceded an away goal, Caulfield’s charges looked visibly deflated, and KR quickly seized the initiative, with Schoop’s low drive from the edge of the area more than a signal of intent.
Caulfield opted to change things up at half-time, sending on Dunleavy for his first game in two months, and the 23-year-old made a positive impact when his cross from deep on the right found the head of Mark O’Sullivan inside the box. Unfortunately for City, the former Avondale United man could only guide it over.
There were acrimonious jeers from the crowd when referee Mads-Kristoffer Kristoffersson refused to award a penalty to Cork with just 10 minutes remaining, deeming there to have been no foul on O’Sullivan. The striker appeared to have been bundled over by Jon Fridgeirsson, but Kristoffersson waved play on.
With just five minutes on the clock, KR captain Palmi Palmason made a crucial intervention to end a sweeping Cork City attack. The cynical nature of the intervention earned him a yellow card, however, as he coldly chopped the hapless O’Sullivan down to quell the danger.
CORK CITY: McNulty, Bennett, Dennehy, Healy (Murray 66), O’Connor, Dennehy, Miller, Buckley, O’Flynn (O’Sullivan 59), Gaynor (Dunleavy 46), Sheppard
KR REYKJAVIK: Magnusson, Steenberg, Lorenzo (Josepsson 29), Fridgeirsson, Gunnarsson, Savarsson, Palmason, Ormarsson (Ragnarsson 73), Frederiksen, Schoop, Hauksson (Martin 68).
Referee: M-K Kristoffersen (Denmark).