WHILE Cork City’s goals in last Friday’s 3-0 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division win over Sligo Rovers will have taken the attention, manager Neale Fenn was again pleased with the Rebel Army’s defensive solidity.
A third clean sheet in a row, after the scoreless league draw with Waterford and the FAI Cup win over Longford Town, helped City move off the bottom of the table and up to eighth as Deshane Dalling, new signing Kit Elliott and Ricardo Dinanga all netted at Turner’s Cross.
With things having tightened up at the back – and veterans Mark McNulty and Alan Bennett impressing in goal and at centre-back respectively – Fenn was pleased to see the team push on at the other end.
“If you count the last two games before the break, we’ve conceded two goals in six games,” he said.
“That was overshadowed by the fact that we weren’t scoring. We’ve been quite solid at the back so it was the next stage on – let’s try to score some goals, let’s go forward.
“We knew what we had to do, we knew we had to rectify it and bring some strikers in and we did. I think the boys did well but we’re not getting carried away – it’s a win and we’re all delighted, obviously, 3-0 probably flattered us but we’ll take it.”
Sligo shaded the opening half-hour as City, with seven changes from the Longford game, tried to build some fluidity. Elliott and fellow signing Scott Fenwick partnered each other in a 3-4-1-2 with Deshane Dalling behind them and Fenn was pleased with what he saw.
“It’s the first time that that 11 has played together,” he said.
“It’s the first time, obviously, that the two boys have played. It takes a little bit of time but I thought we looked a threat but we also looked a little bit shaky at the back.
“We’re delighted that we scored the goal and we went in at half-time and said that, if we had to change it, we would.
“We thought that we just needed to tweak a couple of things and in the second half we had a better shape about us and we stopped giving the ball away from the back.
“The two boys up front were excellent, they just gave us a focal point and we were able to get up the pitch. Deshane played off them and I thought we looked like a threat every time we went forward.”
While Sligo had chances in the first half, once City took the lead they always looked the likelier winners and ended the game with their tally of league goals quadrupled.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Fenn said.
“I’ve spoken many times before about getting the first goal. Once you do that, you build confidence. Was it a 3-0 game? I don’ know, we certainly created enough chances to justify the three goals but they had some in the first half, too.
“We took ours and went 1-0 up and it’s always difficult to come back from that in this league.”
This Friday, City go to the Ryan McBride Brandywell to face Derry City, the first of three straight away games as they are away to Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Cup next Monday and then go to Shelbourne on Saturday week.
Fenn is enjoying the luxury of having selection headaches for the first time.
“You look at the guys we had on the bench,” he said.
“We had Gearóid Morrissey, Dylan McGlade, Ricardo Dinanga, Dáire O’Connor – just the quality that you can bring on.
“It’s a great option for us, we haven’t had that this season. I was leaving players out of the squad on Friday night, which I haven’t done before.”