HAVING had 13 days without a game, Cork City have another fortnight off after Friday night's visit to Sligo as the midseason break kicks in.
The postponement of the scheduled game with Waterford last Sunday has allowed interim manager, John Cotter, more time to work with the team following a heavy schedule which saw four trips to Dublin in the space of 12 days.
The most recent of those matches was the 1-1 draw with St Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park, with a 95th-minute equaliser denying City.
The concession apart, it was a positive display from the Rebel Army and Cotter is keen to replicate that at the Showgrounds, where City won 2-1 at the end of February.
“They were good, absolutely, particularly second half,” he says.
“The first half was very stop-start but, second half, for a period of 20, 25 minutes, we created a lot of chances and should have scored another couple of goals, to be fair.
“That’s something we’ve been working on, after creating those chances it’s a matter of taking them now. If we keep performing like that, I’ve no doubt the results will come.
“Hopefully, we can bring that into tonight.”
Sligo are in sixth place, two points ahead of City in eighth, with seventh-placed Waterford having two games in hand on both.
The situation adds extra significance to the game in terms of looking to make a move up the table.
Regardless of the opposition though, Cotter is keen to ensure that they secure a positive result before facing into the second half of the season.
“You want to go into the break with a win, after a good, positive result,” he says.
“Every game we treat the same anyway, Sligo are just ahead of us in the table but we’d be treating it the same as we would have in previous years, when we were up towards the top of the table.
“We’ll have to go up there and play well and put our own stamp on the game, the things we would have worked on over the last couple of days. Hopefully, we can do that and come away with a positive result.”
Being able to work with the team on the training ground at Bishopstown has been a nice luxury for Cotter after a hectic first month as interim manager since taking over following John Caulfield’s departure. He enjoys the coaching side of the job, when it’s feasible.
“I think you need to,” he says, “it’s just about finding that time.
“Not just here — it was the same for every club over those few weeks, when you were playing Friday-Monday.
“It was good, it gave us a chance to do some proper work and give fellas a bit of recovery too before Friday.
“Just because you don’t play for a couple of weeks doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be fresh as a daisy, as the Champions League final proved.
“Hopefully, the things we’ve worked over the past few weeks can come out and we’ll get a positive result.”
As well as the win away in the third league game — City’s first victory following defeats to St Pat’s and Waterford — the second league meeting between the sides, in April, finished in a scoreless draw. It was part of City’s eight-game run without a victory, and Sligo’s defending added to the feelings of frustration.
Cotter is optimistic that they have improved since then and that the touch in front of goal will be better than the record of 17 strikes in 20 games would suggest.
“They did frustrate us that night,” he says.
“Darragh Rainsford had a great chance towards the end, he took it in and the ball hit Mitchell Beeney in the face.
“That was the time, but when chances come along, you have to take them and even two weeks ago we didn’t.
“You’d hope that, if we do create those chances, we’ll take them.
“And, if we do get a goal, you know that you have to get a second.
“That caught us as well the other week but they’re things we would have worked on.”
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