FRIDAY SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Cork City v Derry City, Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm.
CORK City interim manager John Cotter is keen for the team to begin the second half of the season in a positive frame of mind as they play a first home game in six weeks.
Not since the defeat to Dundalk on May 17 have the Rebel Army been in action at Turner’s Cross, due to a combination of the mid-summer break and the scheduled game with Waterford three weeks ago being postponed.
With visitors Derry City in fourth place in the table, six points ahead of City with two more games played, it’s imperative that the hosts lay down a marker if they are to have any hope of a late European challenge.
“Obviously, the Waterford game going was disappointing,” Cotter says.
“It’ll be great to get back out in front of the supporters, for everyone, for the club, for the supporters themselves to come to a game, though the support has been fantastic for the last few away games.
“Hopefully, we can put on a performance and pick up the three points.
“It would be a good way to kick-start the second half of the season, to come back with a win would be great but we’re under no illusions that it won’t be handed to us either.
“We want to start the game well, get on the front foot and hopefully take the three points at the end of it.”
With the transfer window opening next week, it could be a last outing in a City shirt for a few players, with Graham Cummins and James Tilley tipped to depart. While Cotter took some time off the break, he wasn’t off the grid.
“I had a couple of days but I’d have had my phone with me,” he says.
“I was in here most of the week, business as usual, and I don’t mind that, it doesn’t bother me.
“It has to be done, that’s part of it and I actually enjoy that side of it, to be honest.”
City’s last two games before the break were 1-1 draws away to St Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers, having led in each. Cotter is keen for the team to better kill off opponents.
“The Pat’s game, we should have won,” he says.
“I know you can talk about the goal at the end, but we had enough chances, we should have been clear at that stage anyway. The Sligo game was one where it was nip and tuck, Sligo had their chances too. We could have won it, we had two great chances at the end, Graham had a chance with a header and Darragh Rainsford had another chance with a header.
“Sligo will probably feel that they deserved something so a draw was probably the fairest result on the night, even though either side could have won it.
“The pleasing thing for me over those games was the chances we were creating, the challenge now is to start taking them and converting them, when we do go 1-0 up, we need to get that second goal, convert those chances and see out the game that way.”
City have yet to score against Derry this season, drawing 0-0 at home in March before a 2-0 reversal at the Ryan McBride Brandywell at the end of Derry. Cotter is expecting a similarly tough challenge.
“Nothing’s going to be handed to us by Derry, by any means,” he says.
“We’ve had two tough games off them this year, we drew 0-0 at the Cross and they beat us above.
“That was at a period where we weren’t really creating too many chances,” he says.
“In the last few games, we’ve started to do that better, we’ve created a lot more chances and when those chances come along you have to take them.
“In the last two games, we’ve been punished for not getting that second goal after going one up. We ended up taking two points when we probably deserved more but, just because you deserve something, doesn’t mean you get it. You need to go out and earn that.
“We know we’ll have to be at our best and have players available, everybody pulling in the same direction and hopefully go out on the front foot and get the crowd going and hopefully get three points.”