United held in Cobh but still well clear as they head to Athlone

Galway United’s promotion charge hit a stumbling block when they were held at St. Colman’s Park despite the hosts being reduced to 10 men for the bulk of the second half.

The damage was limited by Waterford’s draw at home to Longford Town. The upshot is that the gap remains at 13 points with 14 games to go.

Of primary concern to John Caulfield and his staff will be his side’s inability to convert their second half dominance into clearcut chances and goals.

Nonetheless, positives can be taken from the trip to Cobh and it shouldn’t be forgotten that this was only the third time that United have dropped points in twenty-two played.

The second-half introductions of new signings Wassim Aouachria and Aodh Dervin will be chief among these green shoots. The big striker was a handful for the Cobh defence and his power and pace caused the red card for Darragh O’ Sullivan Connell as he struggled to track the former Algeria youth international in the 52nd minute.

Dervin meanwhile was busy and industrious on the ball and added energy to a tiring attack upon his introduction.

United got off to a bad start and were behind inside two minutes. Liam Kervick held the ball up in the box and teed up Pierce Phillips who drilled a low shot to the corner of the net to leave Brendan Clarke with no chance.

The Tribesmen responded positively and dominated the ball and the territory for the bulk of the game. Stephen Walsh was a nuisance up front but failed to convert either of his big chances. His first came in the 15th minute after neat interplay and an Ed McCarthy cross which the talisman would have hoped to have converted.

Nonetheless United got on terms before the break. A cross from Conor O’ Keefe looked to have been well dealt with by the Cobh defence. However, the clearance only came as far as David Hurley who had presence of mind to control it and drive into the box.

Justin Eguaibor made a clumsy contact with him on the edge of the box and Hurley went down. He was awarded a soft but just penalty. The former Cobh player dispatched another spot kick to make it 1-1 at the interval.

There was more intensity from United after the turnaround and another deep O’ Keefe cross caused trouble when it was met by Walsh. He did his utmost to steer the ball home but it shaved the far post.

After the red card, United remained on top but could only muster efforts from distance from Aouachria, Hurley and Killian Brouder that failed to trouble Lee Stacey.

Ronan Manning did show some trickery around the hour mark to make space and picked out Francely Lomboto on the back post but he couldn’t convert a difficult chance.

United kept plugging away but Cobh, marshalled at the back by former United player Charlie Lyons, dealt well with the onslaught and would have felt that they earned their share of the spoils.

Tomorrow night United face another tricky away assignment as they travel to Athlone to face a dangerous, if inconsistent, Athlone Town side. A large travelling support is expected from Galway as the stakes continue to increase for a club, city and county desperate for Premier Division football.


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