CORK City’s focus will be on building momentum on Tuesday night as they host eighth-placed Sligo Rovers in yet another midweek game at Turner’s Cross (7.45pm).
This marks these two sides’ second midweek league fixture in 2018, who could potentially meet again on a Monday night should the Rebel Army win their rescheduled League Cup second round tie in six days time against Waterford FC.
Bad weather and worse scheduling mean this is City’s third midweek home game in five, which will go to four in six when Shamrock Rovers come down on Monday 30th of this month.
However, for now attentions are firmly focused on this potentially tricky game against a Sligo side who worried the Rebel Army at times during the second-half of their 4-1 win, and who are off the back of a crucial 2-1 victory over Limerick at Market’s Field, which saw the Shannonsiders swap with Rovers into that relegation playoff place.
Previous to that Gerard Lyttle’s side had lost their previous three to Shamrock Rovers, Derry City, and Dundalk, and that gives you a good idea of the expected result, as City try and put a run together and build on last Friday’s clean sheet.
“Overall, with 10 games gone, we’re okay, we’re in a good position so there’s no panic. We have a lot of work to do, we need to get better and we will get better,” said City boss John Caulfield, speaking about the continuing need for new players to adapt, even with the second series of games well and truly underway.
“With the players that we have, we will become much better, we’ll just keep hanging in there.” However, Caulfield will have to have all his work done before his side take to the pitch tonight without the club’s all-time top scorer, spending the evening in the stand following his altercation with Bastien Héry, lucky that it’s just the game he’ll be missing.
Steven Beattie and Garry Buckley didn’t get off so lightly, serving suspensions for their part in the mass brawl at the Regional Sports Centre, and both unavailable not only for tonight’s game, but for most of the rest of April.
Expect a similar side that we saw against Pat's on Friday, with McNamee operating behind a Graham Cummins who broke a six-game goalless streak with the crucial winner, his first goal since a brace in the away fixture to Sligo at the end of February.
Much emphasis has been put on the former St Johnstone striker to provide the bulk of the City goals, despite Josh O’Hanlon showing signs of improvement in his 10-minute cameo at the end of last Friday’s victory. Youngster Michael Howard has barely been seen apart from a facile Munster Senior Cup victory, and getting a genuine goalscorer will likely be top of John Caulfield’s shopping list come the summer.
For now it’s a case of doing the best with what they’ve got, and despite struggling to impose themselves in the first-half against a determined Liam Buckley’s St Patrick’s Athletic outfit, the Rebel Army’s performance in the second period leaves more room for optimism, who should have had a second to kill off the game.
Also worth mentioning that the Rebel Army are perfect at home in the league, having not conceded a goal at home thus far, and despite disappointing away performances against Dundalk, Limerick, and Waterford, Caulfield’s side seem to be much more at ease playing in front of their own.
“It’s obviously going to be a dangerous game, because obviously they won down last year when Ger Lyttle was after taking over. Everyone is expecting us to win the game, and if we can perform we should, but if we don’t then we’ll be leaving points behind.”
Already playing catch-up to Dundalk, Caulfield’s side can ill-afford to drop many more before the Lilywhites come to town on the 27th.