ONCE again, St Patrick's Athletic have picked up an unwanted red card instead of a badly-needed win as their title bid struggles to find a spark.
A healthy-enough crowd of 1,728 left Richmond Park unsatisfied after the Saints and Cork City played out a scrappy 0-0 draw. Goals were hard to come by in general last night, especially in Inchicore with neither side possessing that cutting edge. And while it's premature to deem a side out of the title race after just seven games, the fact that Pats are already eight points behind Dundalk is a concern.
Their disciplinary record is also a worry, Lee Desmond seeing red last night, the fourth dismissal so far this season.
It's been a tough season for the Saints, especially at the back where their usually tight defence has been tested, and they haven't been helped by constant changes at the back, albeit forced by injuries.
Pats had another patched-up defence last night, U21 cap Lee Desmond making his first league start at left back, though the night ended badly for Desmond as he was sent off 15 minutes from time for a second bookable offence.
And they had to stay sharp as Cork looked the more likely side to score early on. John O'Flynn came up with the first real threat of the game on 26 minutes, hitting the crossbar with an effort and ten minutes later a well-worked Cork move almost yielded a goal.
Liam Miller started it off in midfield, Garry Buckley and Billy Dennehy got involved and O'Flynn had the final involvement, his shot deflected out for a corner.
From that corner Karl Sheppard found himself unmarked but Desmond cleared the danger.
Pats had been quiet up to that point but they almost took the lead just before the break when Chris Fagan got a powerful header to Conan Byrne's cross and Mark McNulty pulled off a superb save.
The home side carried that good form into the second half, McNulty again needed to do his stuff and keep out a well-struck Christopher Forrester effort on 53 minutes and after that Cork needed a strong block from John Kavanagh to frustrate Aaron Greene.
Cork turned to the bench to inject something into their attack with Kieran Djjilali but still, City left Conor O'Malley's goal largely untroubled.
Billy Dennehy tried his luck from distance on 71 minutes but the effort was wide and Pats had to finish the game with 10 men as Desmond was dismissed, the fourth red card in four games for the Saints.
St Pats 0 Cork City 0