UCDAFC held by visitors Cork City at the Bowl. Cahal McAuley reports on the 0-0 draw
UCD missed an opportunity to open up a three- point gap at the top of the First Division table after a 0-0 draw with Cork City in a turgid affair at the UCD Bowl on Friday evening. Neither side showed the required cutting edge to take all three points as the Students failed to create any clear- cut chances.
After a scrappy opening ten minutes which would set the tone for the rest of the match, it was the visitors who missed the best opportunity of the game. UCD’s stand in keeper Carl Williams, making his first league appearance since May 2018, flapped at a cross and was beaten in air by Jack Walsh, who saw his header come back off the post.
Darragh Crowley looked sure to knock the rebound into the empty UCD net but a last-ditch block from Harvey O’Brien spared Williams blushes and kept the game scoreless.
The game then became bogged down in midfield with little attacking threat from either side until the final minutes of the half when both sides came close to breaking the deadlock.
UCD used the space created by City’s narrow back three as Paul Doyle fired in a low cross to Colm Whelan from the right wing, but the forward could only flash his effort over the bar. The Leesiders hit back just before the break as Cian Bargary danced through the UCD defence and drew a fine fingertip save from Williams in a lively conclusion to the half.
The Students enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but were not able to significantly trouble the City defence despite their probing, the visitors came closest but the goalmouth heroics of O’Brien kept the UCD clean sheet intact.
The second half picked up where the first had left off with both sides looking threatening in the opening minutes. Whelan found himself in space outside the box and unleashed a powerful effort on goal, but veteran keeper Mark McNulty was equal to it, turning the ball over the crossbar.
At the other end, Williams caused difficulties for himself once again as he came off his line to claim the ball from a corner but spilled the ball at the feet of Cian Murphy. The UCD keeper made up for his error, however, as he put his body on the line to deny the Cork player and the Students were able to clear their lines.
After an exciting end to the first half and beginning to the second it seemed like a goal was on its way, but it wasn’t to be as neither side came close for the rest of the game.
The fixture petered out as proceedings were disrupted by numerous fouls with five yellow cards being shown in the second half.
The Students extend their unbeaten start to the season to eight games but were held to a draw at the Bowl for the third time this season. UCD sorely missed the influence of Liam Kerrigan further up the pitch as they failed to cause significant problems for the Cork defence, and they will need to turn these draws into wins if they are to mount a serious title challenge.
UCD play Shelbourne in Tolka Park next Friday in what may be a pivotal game in the First Division title race while Cork City host Galway United.