Another clean sheet brings Treaty United one step closer to play-offs

Treaty United 0-0 Cork City

Treaty United all but guaranteed their place in this year’s League of Ireland First Division play-offs tonight, holding visitors Cork City to a 0-0 stalemate at Markets Field.

The Limerick-based side seemed content with a draw for much of the night, placing the impetus on Cork to break them down.

However, Cork’s brightest sparks came from the pyrotechnics of their away end rather than the eleven on the pitch, and if anything Treaty had the better chances to take all three points in the second half.

As the home side consolidated their promotion chances, Cork are now left to watch their hopes dangle by a thread, faced with overhauling a seven point gap in four matches to qualify for the play-offs.

Cork almost got off to the perfect start, when Dylan McGlade’s shot was spilled by Tadhg Ryan only two minutes in. However, the Cappaghmore keeper recovered well to smother the ball before Cian Coleman could tap it home on the rebound.

Cork dominated possession throughout the first half with United opting to sit deep, but the Limerick side found little joy on the counter attack.

United’s first visit to the Cork City final third led to their best chance of the half as great feet from Stephen Christopher on the edge of the box allowed him to play in Kieran Hanlon. Cian Coleman did well to get in the way of the Treaty striker’s effort, in what was a rare touch in the opposition box for the home side.

McGlade threatened on occasion for the visitors, but never came close to finding the back of the net.

Approaching half-time manager Colin Healy was likely frustrated with his side’s quality of delivery from the numerous set-pieces they had. However, it was another poor cross which led to Cork’s best chance of the half in the 37th minute, when Treaty only partially cleared a Cork freekick on the right-hand side.

It came out to Gordon Walker who smartly lobbed it over the on-rushing United defence to Cian Murphy. His first-time volley was excellently blocked by Tadhg Ryan. Barry Coffey’s header on the rebound was far easier for the City shot stopper to deal with.

The second half, like the first, was briefly halted by the away fans’ pyrotechnics as referee Declan Toland gave stewards a chance to remove the flares from the pitch. However, that was maybe the only similarity between the two periods as the game livened up considerably following the interval.

Only minutes into the second half and an incisive ball down the right-hand side played Cian Murphy into space. He ran the ball to the byline before cutting it back to Barry Coffey who tried to guide it into the bottom-left corner, but a Treaty deflection sent it wide and kept the game scoreless.

On a night when Cork really needed a win to keep promotion hopes alive, they appeared a team without a plan B. Healy’s side persisted with long throw after long throw but never looked like unnerving a stubborn Treaty defence. In open play they struggled to create any serious chances.

And then, even the possession stats moved away from Cork with the introduction of Sean McSweeney who immediately helped Treaty get on the ball and get a foothold in the game.

With that extra control, Treaty had their first chance of the half on 66 minutes when Stephen Christopher managed to cut inside before his shot was blocked by a Cork City defender.

Treaty went even closer six minutes later from a corner. A good ball into the box found Anto O’Donnell. His downwards header caused a brief scramble in the six-yard box and made it awkward for Charlie Fleming, who could only send it over from close range.

Both sides exchanged half chances as the game became far more open with Treaty looking the more likely to take the lead as the clock ran down.

Christopher came close eleven minutes before the end with what would have been a spectacular goal. Treaty’s number 18 caught out everyone from a freekick two yards inside the byline; going for goal while a dozen or so players awaited a cross. But McNulty did well to get over to his near post and protect his clean sheet.

The introduction of Sean Kennedy provided some inspiration for Cork City but it was the home side who finished the game with more momentum. Throughout the game, Cork’s rare moments of brilliance were dealt with impressively by a solid United defence.

Late on, Colin Healy threw caution to the wind, putting four men up front for the Rebel Army, but it felt too little too late for a side who desperately needed a win to keep promotion hopes alive.

And end-to-end three minutes of stoppage time failed to produce a serious clear cut chance, as Tadhg Ryan in the Treaty goal reached 300 minutes without conceding a goal for his side.

For Treaty, manager Tommy Barrett will surely be satisfied with a point. But he’ll likely be even happier with the result which emerged from the midlands, where sixth-placed Athlone Town slipped to a 2-0 win at home to Wexford.

The result means United now have a ten-point lead over Athlone, with only twelve points still up for grabs for each side. Second, third, fourth and fifth place will all qualify for the promotion play-offs at the end of the season.

Treaty United: Ryan, Fleming, O’Connell, O’Donnell, Collins, Hanlon, Keane, Christopher, McNamara, Walsh, Lynch (C)

Subs: Melody for Collins(63), McSweeney for Hanlon (63), Armshaw for Keane (81), Coustrain for Christopher (87)

Unused Subs: McCormack, Murphy, Quinlivan, Oyibo

Yellow Cards: Hanlon, Melody

Cork City: McNulty, Hurley, McGlade, Coleman (C), Bargary, Coffey, Holland, Byrne, Murphy, Walker, Bolger

Subs: O’Brien-Whitmarsh for Byrne (67), Kennedy for Bargary (72), Walsh for Holland (79)

Unused Subs: Harrington, Hunt, Morrissey, O’Brien-Whitmarsh, Honohan, Desmond, Kennedy, Walsh, Hakkinen

Yellow Cards: Holland, Walker, Kennedy

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