A late spot kick from Killian Brennan saw the Saints record a hard-fought victory against a 10-man Cork side at Richmond Park
Killian Brennan was the hero for St Patrick's Athletic, converting a late penalty to defeat Cork City on a night that saw a flurry of yellow cards and Kalen Spillane sent off. The Leesiders took the lead through loan signing Ciaran Kilduff, but Anthony Flood equalised soon after before Brennan kept the Saints at the summit with a stoppage-time spot kick.
Cork got the game underway at Richmond Park, but it was the home fans who had an early thrill as Kalen Spillane was awarded a free-kick in the opening few seconds, but made nothing of it.
However, the home fans got a bit of a fright on 11 minutes as City's Shane Duggan put through Neal Horgan and sent a low drive at Brendan Clarke, who saw it late but managed to hold onto it.
The Saints had the first real chance to draw blood with Anthony Flood almost netting the ball on the 20 minute mark after a great cross from Conan Byrne, but a save from Mark McNulty resulted in a sigh of relief from the visiting support.
Neither side was overly impressive in the first 20 minutes and there was no sign of a goal but St Pat’s were almost awarded a penalty around the half-hour mark as a cross from Ian Bermingham clearly hit the arm of Neal Horgan but the verdict was given as ‘ball to hand’ and no penalty was given.
McNulty had another incredible save just before half time after a point blank header from Brennan following a cross from John Russell. The half finished with the home side looking by far the stronger of the two, with Tommy Dunne being quite happy that were still level at the break.
St Pat’s started the second half very much the dominant side, creating a few decent passes in the opening few minutes. The tension was evidently building and about 10 minutes into the half a commotion broke out between Spillane and Flood during which Flood was physically knocked to the ground and Spillane was shown a red card. Flood was later shown a yellow as was City goalkeeper Mark McNulty for protesting at the referee’s decision.
Ciaran Kilduff managed to find the net on 59 minutes completely against the run of play giving 10-man Cork City the lead. The lead didn't last long as Anthony Flood managed to equalise three minutes later with a sublime strike that sailed over McNulty.
It was evident both sides were getting tired and the play slowed down dramatically in the last 10 minutes. However, some careless play from Cork in stoppage time resulted in the Saints being awarded a penalty as Killian Brennan was pulled off the ball as a pass came to his feet. Brennan converted which brought a close to the match and ensured his team stayed at the top of the league.
St Pat's will hope to stay ahead of Dundalk with victory in their next game, at home against Drogheda United on August 2, while Cork are travelling to Thomond Park to face Limerick.