I WAS very surprised by Cobh Ramblers’ performance, particularly their second-half showing, against UCD at St Coleman’s Park on Saturday night.
Yes, to concede a second goal just before half-time is always tough for a team to take but the lack of fight in the second half from the Rams was very uncharacteristic of a Stuart Ashton team. They collapsed in the second half and deserved to lose 4-0 to the Students.
Ramblers, who were unfortunate not to come away with something from last week’s derby against Cork City, can have few complaints this time.
Ashton named the same starting 11 that were unfortunate to lose to City but opted to go with two up front, with Conor Drinan playing alongside Ciaran Griffin. Perhaps Ashton should have made changes to the team judging by how tired some of his players looked in the second half.
On a difficult, dry, playing surface, Cobh started the game brightly and played to the conditions. They tried to utilise last week’s goalscorer Griffin’s pace by playing balls in behind Luke Boore, who lacks mobility and struggled at the beginning of the match.
However, as the game wore on, the more predictable Ramblers’ plan became and UCD’s defence grew into the match, comfortably dealing with the long balls. I’m all for playing the conditions and playing balls into channels at the start of the game, but after a while teams need to vary their play and ask different questions of the opposition but Cobh never did.
The opening goal came against the run of play, but it was poor defending. David O’Leary was out of position after an effort on goal. From a long goal-kick, Charlie Lyons – who endured a difficult night – was unable to fully clear and with O’Leary out of position, UCD picked up the second ball easily and played in Liam Kerrigan.
They created very few chances in the game and seem to pin their hopes on a defensive error from one of their long balls or score from a set-piece.
It might be a case that Aston has to sacrifice playing with two holding midfielders. Both O’Leary and Darren Murphy have impressed me in stages of the opening two games, but also have more to improve on.
Murphy is an excellent player and can pick a pass. However, against UCD he dwelled on the ball for too long and was often caught in possession. O’Leary is a fiery player but I don’t believe he is fully fit.
Cobh looked a very tired side and weren’t strong enough. The Students weren’t even that impressive and I would be surprised if they got promoted.
It’s hard to judge a team this early. Ramblers were excellent in the opening fixture against City but will be very worried after this. Andy Myler’s side rarely had to get out of second gear and still managed to put four past Ramblers and should have scored more.