Parkes and Coughlan on the double as Rovers defeat Cork
Cork City 2, Sligo Rovers 4
Romeo Parkes and Ronan Coughlan were both on the double as Sligo Rovers saw off Cork City in a pulsating encounter at Turners Cross on Friday night.
Coming into this fixture, City sat just two points behind Rovers with a game in hand, and having just appointed Neale Fenn as manager during the week their fans were feeling optimistic.
The hosts had not won a home league game since May 10th, while Liam Buckley's side had won a league game since the 5-1 victory over UCD on July 1st.
Rovers have beaten Cork at the Cross during the month of August for the last three consecutive years.
The Bit O'Red started brightly on Friday night, with Regan Donelon's free-kick hitting the top of the net after three minutes.
Parkes and Daryl Fordyce gave Cork 'keeper Mark McNulty a taste of the action early on.
An injury to referee Rob Harvey after 20 minutes forced a change of officials, with fourth official Anthony Buttimer coming on in his place.
City should have gone ahead when Karl Sheppard set up Eoghan Stokes for a bicycle kick, but his effort was blocked by the body of John Mahon.
On the half-hour mark, Rovers took the lead. An outstanding through ball from David Cawley was left for Parkes by Coughlan, the Jamaican took his time shooting before eventually rounding McNulty to give Rovers the lead.
Neale Fenn's side responded well, and were back on level terms just two minutes later, as Dan Casey nodded Daire O'Connor's corner past Ed McGinty.
Liam Buckley's side were keen to restore their lead once again and almost did so when Donelon's cross was nodded goalwards by Kris Twardek, but a stunning save from McNulty kept the game level.
Just as the hosts were settling into the game, Rovers struck again to sneak a lead just before half-time.
A bursting run from John Russell found former Cork man Ronan Coughlan in space, and the 23 year old slotted his shot into the back of McNulty's net to give Rovers a 2-1 lead at the half-way mark.
Whatever Fenn said to his charges at half-time seemed to work, as they were causing problems for their opponents after half-time.
Stokes headed wide on two occasions, before the visitors extended their lead even further.
Clever build-up from Twardek and Coughlan was finished excellently by Parkes whose shot crashed into the back of the net on the hour mark.
Parkes came close to completing his hat-trick when he forced McNulty into a save, before his effort from a Cawley cross was over the bar.
A spectacular goal from Shane Griffin from 25 yards out gave City hope heading into the last few minutes, with the crowd fully behind their side. But the game was put to bed on 90 minutes, when Coughlan continued to chase down what looked like a lost cause, but his pressure paid off as he forced McNulty into a mistake, tapping it into the back of the net to seal a 4-2 victory for Rovers.
The Bit O'Red are now five points clear of City, who occupy 7th place in the table.
Rovers face UCD on Saturday at The Showgrounds in the quarter-final of the FAI Cup.
CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Shane Griffin, Alan Bennett, Dan Casey, Colm Horgan (Josh Honohan 76); Conor McCormack, Garry Buckley; Daire O'Connor (Mark O'Sullivan 53), Eoghan Stokes (Alec Byrne 79), Joel Coustrain; Karl Sheppard.
SLIGO ROVERS: Ed McGinty; Regan Donelon (Niall Morahan 75), Kyle Callan McFadden, John Mahon, Lewis Banks; John Russell, Daryl Fordyce, David Cawley; Romeo Parkes, Ronan Coughlan, Kris Twardek.
Referee: Robert Harvey (Anthony Buttimer 24).
Sligo Rovers' game against Finn Harps, at The Showgrounds scheduled for Saturday September 14 is now rescheduled for Friday September 13 so as not to clash with the All-Ireland final replay.