CORK CITY will have to cope and contend with an in-form Bray Wanderers’ team raising their game in Friday night's attractive top of-the-table Premier Division clash at Turner’s Cross (7.45pm).
It’s another big test of City’s title credentials, a new challenge and a new test for John Caulfield’s side who have chalked up an incredible 10 straight wins so far and they go for the clean sweep this evening.
“It’s tough every week now because teams are raising their game against us. St Pats did it the other night and played their best football of the season up at Richmond Park, and the week before, Bohemians took it up a level against us at Dalymount Park.
“We are at home tonight but it makes no difference and I am sure Bray will be out of the blocks fast and in our faces. They will try and take the game to us. They have had a fabulous start to the season and if you look at towards the end of last season, they lost just twice in 16 matches and they have carried that form into this season,” said City boss John Caulfield.
“They have two great football men and great coaches in Harry Kenny and Liam O’Brien at the helm and this is one of the biggest tests for us. They have ambitions to challenge for the title and get into Europe and they are well placed in joint second with Dundalk so the points are vital tonight.
"Bray have merged with St Joseph’s Boys club as well over the off-season and they are a different proposition altogether this year. They have some very good players in Dylan Connolly, Aaron Greene, Garry McCabe and Peter Cherrie in goal and they come to us on the back of a four-game winning streak having scored 11 goals,” he added.
“They see tonight’s game at the Cross as a massive opportunity to try and close the gap on us and we will need the home fans right behind us for what should be a very exciting game.
"We want to keep our run going and stretch it out to eleven straight wins and make it a clean sweep tonight,” said Caulfield who has Alan Bennett (hamstring) and Jimmy Keohane (shoulder) ruled out of this top billing clash.
City will play Steven Bettie at right-back again and the chances are that club captain Johnny Dunleavy will come into the back four again for Bennett just as he did when the Richmond man was injured after 50 minutes up at Inchicore.
Greg Bolger and Shane Griffin came on as subs against St Pat’s too and both played down the Dyke on Monday night against the Irish amateur squad going to the UEFA Regions Cup finals in Turkey.
Christian Nanetti was on the bench at Richmond Park but he was named man of the match against Gerry Davis’ Regions Cup selection, and like Bolger and Griffin, he is pushing hard for a start as well tonight.
The games are coming thick and fast for Cork with three in eight days for they meet the holders, St Pat’s again on bank holiday Monday in the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup and then it’s Finn Harps in the league on this night week.
“This business is all about results and while there is pressure for every game, home and away, it’s nice to be out in front for a change and not having to play catch up. The shoe is on the other foot at the moment and we have a nine-point lead at the top of the table.
“But the league will really only get into its stride and it’s proper run-in come September and that’s when the really big tests will come for us. I think the race for the title has yet to start in earnest and all we can do is stay focused and see where we can be coming into the summer.
“We go out to win every game and we prepare well for every match but there comes a time or a patch in a season when you hit a bump and it all depends how you react to that.
"We are on the crest of a wave at the moment, playing some great football and hopefully we can keep racking up the points. My experience tells me that we will have a few twists and turns yet but if we take it game-by-game and keep the focus, then we have a great chance,” he added.