Evans magic rewards Bohemians' endeavour
Bohemians 1-1 Cork City
With the Dundalk machine gathering pace, it is gradually becoming clear that this is a season when the chasing pack cannot afford to drop too many points.
"At the moment, they seem untouchable," admitted Cork manager John Caulfield after his team conceded an 84th-minute equaliser to a Bohemians team that continues to surprise.
It means that the Leesiders are seven points off the pace after the first series of games in which they tasted defeat only once - last week's loss to the defending champions.
Cork's three trips to Dublin in 2015 have ended with draws, yet this one will sting as they were so close to a victory which they didn't really deserve after failing to push on from Mark O'Sullivan's early strike.
"We were a bit flat and we played below ourselves despite getting a great start," conceded Caulfield. "It's important for us to stay in there. It's up to Pat's, Rovers and everyone to challenge Dundalk. There's a long way to go, but we've got to get our confidence back."
Bohemians, who sit a point behind Cork, are also on the scene and this was a significant Dalymount Park result for their manager Keith Long.
"We've played Dundalk here and played St Pat's here and lost both games so today at home to Cork, getting something out of the game was important I felt," he said.
Long was enthused by the manner in which his players responded after a sluggish opening.
The visitors grabbed the lead inside two minutes when Liam Miller seized on poor hold-up play from Bohs striker Marc Griffin - a feature of the first half - and embarked on a surging run before feeding O'Sullivan, who took one touch to tee up a right-footed rocket past Dean Delany.
It was a first league goal of the season for O'Sullivan on his return to the team in place of John O'Flynn, and he was determined to send out his own message by putting himself about.
The Leesiders are a hard side to peg back when they grab the initiative and they comfortably held their advantage to the break.
Bohs left-back Lorcan Fitzgerald came closest to an equaliser when his free was touched over by Mark McNulty after a foul by Alan Bennett on Roberto Lopes outside the area. Bennett was in the wars and duly replaced before the interval with hamstring damage.
Caulfield was able to call on the savvy Dan Murray as a replacement, thus reflecting the depth of his squad.
Bohs were able to introduce an experienced sub of their own when Anto Murphy had to withdraw at half-time following a rambunctious O'Sullivan challenge, with Dave Mulcahy summoned into the fray.
The Dubliners enjoyed plenty of possession from the restart as Cork eschewed the temptation for adventure. They did sporadically threaten on the break, though, with Garry Buckley inches away with a volley from a Karl Sheppard flick.
"We needed to go for the second goal but overall we just didn't do enough," sighed Caulfield.
Bohs sensed opportunity as Billy Dennehy joined Bennett on the treatment table and Long turned to his bench for inspiration, with Adam Evans and ace predator Jason Byrne sent in to boost the attacking options in a reversion to 4-4-2.
Loyal Bohs followers have warmed to the class of 2015 because of the spirit in their ranks and a commitment to passing the ball and, after striking late in Derry last week, they finished this game strongly.
"In the first half we were a little bit tentative, we played within ourselves and in the second half we were a lot more braver on the ball," observed Long.
"There's a bit of a gap between us and some of the full-time teams but what we lack in quality we make up in honesty of effort and I thought we had that in abundance today."
Cork were given a warning when Griffin wriggled into space and forced a fine stop from McNulty, a chance that gave the Gypsies renewed energy.
From their next break, a Pender cross was headed away by John Kavanagh but only as far as the grateful Evans who found the roof of the net with a perfect swipe of his left boot. Cork could have no complaints.
Bohemians - Delany, Pender, Prendergast, Murphy (Mulcahy 45), Fitzgerald; Lopes, Creevy; Dillon (Byrne 70), Buckley, Kavanagh; Griffin.
Cork City - McNulty, Kavanagh, Bennett (Murray 41), D Dennehy, Gaynor; Healy, Miller; B Dennehy (Djilali 67), Buckley, Sheppard (Morrissey 84); O'Sullivan.
ref - P Sutton (Clare)