WHILE Friday’s 2-1 loss to Sligo Rovers was Cork City’s first league defeat at Turner’s Cross in just over a year – coincidentally against the same opposition – home form had taken a dip.
Two of the previous three clashes at the Cross, against Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic, had been draws, with the 5-0 victory over Derry City the exception.
Nine points dropped at home have left City six points behind Dundalk with six league games remaining, meaning any margin for error has now been fully eradicated. Even if City do win all six, that may not be enough to stop the Lilywhites from winning a fourth title in five years.
Manager John Caulfield feels that the attacking fluency of the past few years has not always been present in the current campaign. However, he does also make the point that greater expectations can make results seem worse.
“To be honest, we’re probably not creating enough,” he says.
“You can say what you want, but we were more dynamic the last two years, we used to create more chances and at the moment, we’re just not.
“I can’t put it down to the honesty of the players because I see them every day, but at the end of the day we’ve lost a lot of seriously quality players, sometimes it takes guys time to come in and maybe they’re not as consistent yet.
“Time will tell at the end of the season whether they are or not compared to the previous teams because we were always consistent. This year, we’ve been incredibly consistent, it’s just that we’re always expected to win, that’s the level we’ve got to.
“You bring in players every year and you hope that they’ll achieve things. At the moment, we’re still well in the cup and the league, we still have 18 points to play for, but it is difficult after Friday, there’s no doubt about that.”
Included in the six remaining games is Dundalk’s visit to Turner’s Cross on September 21. It is a must-win, as the other five are, but Caulfield is keen to ensure that focus isn’t lost ahead of this Friday’s FAI Cup quarter-final away to Longford Town.
“Next week we have our most important game, the quarter-final of the cup,” he says.
“We’ve won it for the last two years, something that has never been done before in the club’s history, so we must make sure that, next week, we’re ready to go and get into the semi-final.
“Then we’ll deal with the league games after that. I keep saying that you can’t hide, the last half-hour against Sligo wasn’t good enough. We’ll go through the performance, we’ll talk to players and we’ll see what was right and what was wrong.
“A lot of Friday was right but, when they equalised, we fell back for some reason, so we’ll have to analyse that.”