CORK City attacker Karl Sheppard is hoping they can carry their league form into tomorrow’s Europa League third qualifying round first leg against Rosenborg at Turner’s Cross.
The champions dug out a vital 2-1 victory away to Waterford last Friday night, on the back of victories over Bray and Derry, which ensures the title race with Dundalk will go down to the wire. Sheppard feels City have got the balance right since their two Champions League qualifiers against Legia Warsaw, despite being beaten 4-0 on aggregate.
“Since Europe, we have kicked on a little bit. The team has been more settled, I think that was three or four in a row without changes and that will help. At the start of the season we had a lot of new players in – a lot of new faces from the year before so there was a bit of getting used to each other. But I think it’s starting to change now, we’re starting to click through the gears and probably at the right time as well.
“The thing we learned from that tie was that we needed to keep the ball a bit better and you could see against Waterford and in the other games that we’re trying to get it down a bit more. Even without the ball, we’re trying to press a bit harder. We’re able to get the ball back a bit quicker and do more with it.”
Rosenborg are the dominant force domestically and gave Celtic a good rattle before exiting the Champions League.
“We watched them against Celtic and they were very good. They gave a really good account of themselves in the second leg. It will be a tough game, we know that, but if we start playing like we have been, we’ll give them a good go.”
City had chances against Legia Warsaw but couldn’t convert them.
“I think the only thing is to be more clinical. When the chances come – and we had them home and away against Legia, 0-0, 1-0 over there in Warsaw, we had great chances. That is the main thing.
“We look back on the Legia games with a bit of disappointment, knowing that if we went 1-0 up at home or 1-1 away, we really could have seen what they’re made of. But that’s for another day – hopefully Thursday.”
City striker Graham Cummins hit the winner against Waterford and his threat will be critical tomorrow.
“It wasn’t just his goal, it was his overall play that was brilliant,” he says.
“He’s winning headers, holding the ball up and working his socks off, which is what we need from him.
“With Cummins, you know he’ll be close to it when the ball is bouncing around the box. He was getting chances and ’keepers were just making great saves, I know how it goes. It’s one of them. But once you get your goal, they tend to fly in.”