Home truths take gloss off Rebel season
Cork City 0 Sligo Rovers 1
Cork City remain 17 points clear at the top of the Premier Division table, but there must be a contagion of worry among the Rebel Army faithful after a second successive home league defeat.
Having fallen to Bohemians on the last day of July, John Caulfield's side looked to have bounced back with away wins at Drogheda United and Bray Wanderers in the FAI Cup, but also exited the EA Sports Cup after extra-time against Shamrock Rovers.
Another Rovers proved to be their undoing here, as Rhys McCabe's somewhat fortuitous goal in the 49th minute proved to be the difference as his attempted cross from the left looped over Mark McNulty and into the home goal.
There was more than enough time for the home side to conjure something in response, but it wasn't until the closing stages that they had chances to salvage points.
In the 81st minute, Gearoid Morrissey linked well with Karl Sheppard and his low cross might have caused bother but for decisive goalkeeping by Micheál Schlingerman.
Then, Shane Griffin's cross was met by former Sligo man Jimmy Keohane, whose header into the ground bounced up and off the bar, with sub Connor Ellis's follow-up saved by the goalkeeper.
Sheppard couldn't get enough on a Griffin corner, though City had to be careful too as Jamie McDonagh almost made the game safe, screwing wide from distance after McNulty's clearance fell to him.
City's final chance came when Ellis headed wide from sub Steven Beattie's cross and though Sligo had Craig Roddan sent off for a second booking, they held on.
In the first half, City had begun brightly.
Keohane - along with captain Alan Bennett, brought into the side after the cup win, for Beattie and Robbie Williams - operated at centre-forward, with Sheppard, Garry Buckley and another former Sligo man, Kieran Sadlier, behind him.
Sadlier had the first effort, coming in from the left and shooting low into the side-netting, but the hosts struggled by and large to penetrate the Sligo rearguard, with Roddan doing well in a defensive midfield role.
By the same token, Sligo weren't offering much danger to the City defence, with Raffaele Cretaro having their best opportunity, shooting wide from distance on 15 minutes.
Coming up to half-time, Sheppard went close as he shot across goal and Buckley might have netted just after the restart, curling a shot off the post.
Immediately after that, McCabe had Sligo ahead and it was a lead they never relinquished.