THE footballing cliché ‘it was a game of two halves’ best describes Cork City’s 1-0 defeat to Cabinteely.
Colin Healy’s side controlled the game in the first half but never turned up in the second. Even though City were poor in the second half, this was a better overall performance by the Rebel Army compared to last week against Cobh Ramblers.
They began the game brightly and pinned Cabinteely back early on. City dominated possession, having several corners in the early stages.
Steven Beattie started at right-back, making his second debut for the club, and I would have liked to have seen more from him and Ronan Hurley going forward. Cabinteely played a 3-5-2 formation and against that formation, the best way to hurt teams is to get your full-backs on the ball and create and overload down the wings.
Hurley and Beattie seemed hesitant to get forward. Maybe they were instructed to do that so that the team were more solid defensively, but for me, anytime I’ve played against a team playing three at the back, we would always try and use the full-backs as much as we could.
Beattie is only coming back from injury and it will be a while before we see him back to full fitness and back to his very best and I was impressed by Hurley’s one on one defending.
Cian Murphy ran the channels excellent for City and caused a lot of problems for the Cabinteely defence. It’s tough being a lone striker but it’s even tougher playing against three centre-backs. I always hated playing against three at the back because there is less space and it makes the strikers' movement more difficult, but I thought Murphy did mix his game up well, between running the channels and showing to feet.
I believe Murphy would benefit with having a striking partner alongside him. Jack Walsh replaced Murphy, and he showed some nice touches when he came on and his hold-up play was excellent.
City created their chances in the first half when they got the ball wide quickly, which allowed Dylan McGlade and Cian Bargary to find themselves in one on one situations. The problem was that City didn’t do it enough and their passing was too slow at times which allowed Cabinteely to get into a shape that City found hard to break down.
Bargary and McGlade did cause Cabinteely problems in the first half and I found it strange that they switched wings in the second. I know that the same tactic worked last week against Ramblers with McGlade assisting Bargary’s winning goal but unfortunately for City, it did not have the same impact.
Bargary looked sharp in the opening stages but drifted out of the game and switching to the right of the front three did not suit him.
McGlade and Bargary both seem more suited to playing on the left but the former seems the better of the two on the right. The former Longford man drifts into pockets playing on the right but also stays wide quite a lot making it difficult for defenders to defend against him.
The middle of the pitch was very crowded which made it difficult for Gearoid Morrissey, Alec Byrne and Jack Baxter to really get on the ball and dictate play but with their quality, I would still expect a bit better than what they showed against Cabinteely.
Baxter is the player that drops in and gets the ball from the defenders and protects the back four. He senses danger and picks up a lot of second ball but was quieter than his performance against Ramblers. Morrissey is one of the best strikers of the ball I have played with and he needs to be getting into the box more and having more shots on goal. I think Byrne would benefit from playing next to Baxter in a deeper role.
By doing so, and giving more protection to the defence, would allow City’s full-backs to get forward more because they know they should have the players to cover them if they are in danger.
It’s only two games into the season, we have already seen some strange results in the First Division and there is no need for City fans to panic yet.