Cobh Ramblers took a huge step towards catching UCD in the League of Ireland First Division with a win in the Student’s’ backyard. Both Cobh and UCD are battling it out to finish third in the League and go into the playoffs for promotion. Cork striker Eoin McGreevy gave the travelling side the winning goal in the second half, a shock to the Students who had set up to play for a draw.
UCD started the game confidently, passing the ball about and through the backline, keeping possession well early on. Student captain Gary O’Neill worked well as the launchpad for a lot of UCD attacks from the centre of the field.
But it was always Cobh that looked the more threatening in front of goal. The Ramblers attacking pair of Ellis and McGreevy linked well to probe the UCD defence for any half chances, and registered the majority of shots on target in the first half.
Despite the heavy pressing from Cobh UCD looked promising on the break. Several times in the first half the Students swept forward with a series of quick passes through the ranks, but frontman Ryan Swan never found himself much space in front of the Cobh goal.
A near disastrous slip by UCD lad Greg Sloggett almost gave Cobh a goal around twenty minutes into the game. Sloggett tried to clear a dropping long ball, but slipped and missed, letting Cobh winger Rob Lehane in on the goal. Luckily for the Students the Cobh shot was blocked by the scrambling body of centre back Thomas Boyle.
The usually creative UCD winger Cathal Brady came to life in the single minute of injury time of the first half. Spinning away from his man and streaking clear on a run into the Cobh half. Brady’s neat ball through to Swan caught the Cobh backline on the hop, but keeper Hunt managed to scramble the UCD shot wide to close the opening half.
Cobh had the best early chance in the second half, and UCD stopper Niall Corbet had to rush out to mop up a through ball. The visiting Cork side began to get into a rhythm of sending a seemingly constant stream of balls over the top to the quick forwards Ellis, McGreevy and Cobh winger Fleming.
The Student midfield pair Gary O’Neill and Jason McClelland tried to force a bout of possession for UCD. McClelland danced past two Cobh players to set up a promising run, but was brought down from behind. The UCD captain O’Neill nearly scored from the ensuing spot kick, curling it over the wall and wrong-footing the keeper – but it dipped too late and looped a foot or so over the bar.
It was forward Eoin McGreevy who snatched the winning goal of the game for Cobh on 71 minutes. The Students were too complacent in sitting back and a long ball dropped well for the Cobh forward, who nipped past the UCD defenders to lash a strike into the back of the net. From there UCD threw the kitchen sink at the game, their heads suddenly snapping up and collectively looking to move the ball forward as a team.
The Students fired ball after ball up the pitch to try and sneak an opening, but Cobh kept the game tight in their final third, and cleared each of the UCD player’s efforts as they came. UCD manager Collie O’Neill brought on experienced forward Jayson Byrne to stack the Belfield attack, but Cobh saw the game out to deny the Students an equaliser.
The crucial win for Cobh sees them move within three points of third place UCD, as both sides head into the final four league games. UCD set up in the Belfield Bowl to play for a draw, but Cobh travelled needing a win and seized the game from the off deservedly. The pressure is now on UCD to turn up and score goals in their last four games if they want to hold onto their position in the promotion playoffs spots.
UCD ………..….. 0 Cobh …………… 1 Belfield Bowl.
Jack Power | Editor