TONIGHT: SSE Airtricity League Premier Division:
Cork City v Sligo Rovers, Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm
While it was a while coming, Cork City’s goal drought ended at the best possible time on Tuesday night and manager Neale Fenn hopes they can build on that against Sligo Rovers tonight.
Ricardo Dinanga struck in injury time at the end of extra time to send City past Longford Town in the FAI Cup first round, giving the Rebel Army a first goal since the resumption of football.
“It was a really great feeling,” Fenn said.
“The relief, the joy – but what would have made it even better would have been if the Shed was there.
“The feeling of sharing it with them and the atmosphere would have been great, like when we beat Finn Harps with a goal down at that end, it was amazing.
“That would be the only thing that would take away from it but it’s a great feeling. It was tough, it was hard-fought, but we’ll take it anyway. The players were buzzing but there was a little bit of relief, too.
“The confidence will be high but we have to keep the players like that because you play better when you’re confident.
“The only way you can do that, most of the time, is by winning and playing well. We won on Tuesday and if that doesn’t breed confidence then I don’t know what will.”
League games against Bohemians and Waterford, and the Munster Senior Cup final against Rockmount, had seen City draw blanks and that run was extended to 120 minutes on Tuesday before Dinanga’s intervention. Fenn admits that he was worried.
“Of course I was,” he said.
“After 120 minutes without a goal, you’re bound to be. But the thing is that a goal’s a goal whether you score it in the first minute or the last minute.
“I’ve been banging on for however long that, in this league, if you score a goal, most of the time you’re going to win 1-0.
“We always focus on the positives. There’s no point harping on about the negative stuff.
“We’re moving on, we’ve kept two clean sheets in a row, we’re in the next round of the cup, we won on Tuesday and we should have more players back for Friday, we got a point away from home last week.”
On the debit side, City are likely to be without Cian Bargary, who did well at right wing-back in the first half on Tuesday before having to go off injured.
“It seems to be the case at the moment that, when someone’s doing well for us, they pick up an injury!” Fenn laughed.
“It’s part and parcel of it, we’re not the only team that have had this.
“When you’ve had such a long break and then you play a number of games in a short amount of time, this can happen.
“‘Bagsy’ didn’t play at the weekend, but it’s his first start in a while and that can have a toll. It was a blow, I thought he was doing quite well but Charlie Fleming came on and set up the goal.”
Against that though, he expects to have a number of players who weren’t playing on Tuesday.
“Obviously, we’ll have new signings Scott Fenwick and Kit Elliott available,” he said.
“Deshane [Dalling] will be back from suspension so that gives us three attacking options straightaway.
“We’re hoping that the lads who were out with niggles on Tuesday night could possibly pull through but we’re not sure yet.
“Gearóid [Morrissey] possibly, Cory Galvin probably, but it’s very much 50-50.”
On Tuesday, and against Waterford, City played a 3-4-1-2, but it’s not necessarily a permanent switch.
“We tried to pick a system, last Saturday and on Tuesday night, that would suit the players we had available,” Fenn said.
“We tried it and it was okay at times, I felt that maybe the players in the tens weren’t getting on the ball enough.
“Then, obviously, when you get a man sent off, that goes out the window, you play 4-4-1 and you sit in.
“So far, since we’ve been back, we haven’t really had a choice. It’s just great to have that headache of deciding who to play.”
Sligo have had a good restart, beating Derry City and Shelbourne. They have also signed Junior Ogedi Uzokwe, last year’s top scorer, from Derry – he scored a hat-trick at the Cross last season.
“I’m expecting it to be a tough game,” Fenn said.
“Sligo can mix it up quite well. With the way they play, it’s hard to predict how they’ll go.
“The last few weeks, we’ve been focusing on ourselves and not trying too much to focus on the opposition.
“We’ll try to continue to do that this week.”