SSE Airtricity League First Division
Cork City v Athlone Town
Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm
It’s a first league meeting with Athlone Town since 2014 for Cork City and manager Colin Healy is expecting a good reaction to last week’s 1-0 loss at Cabinteely.
However, despite the result at Stradbrook Road and the failure to score, Healy doesn’t believe that it was necessarily a poor performance from his team.
“I wouldn’t say ‘bad day at the office’,” he says.
“We didn’t get the three points, yeah, but I thought the performance was okay. We couldn’t break down Cabinteely and that was it.
“It was frustrating, yes, but a bad day at the office, I wouldn’t say it like that, no.
“The mood has been good and training has been good. Obviously, it was disappointing to lose the game – we had a lot of possession but we just couldn’t score, which I thought was frustrating.
“We’ve had a good week of training and all the boys are looking forward to the game on Friday.”
Ultimately, the key objective tonight is to convert possession into goals.
“We had a lot of possession around the back,” Healy says, “we got into the final third and it probably broke down a lot more…
“It’s just something we need to work on, it’s a new team that we’re after putting together as well, so it will take time.
“We did get a few opportunities but unfortunately we couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. We had a lot of possession and we pinned Cabinteely back, they defended a lot deeper in the second half – they got their goal and sat back to protect it, which they did very well.
“It was just one of those games.”
In the second half last week, Healy introduced strikers Jack Walsh and Beineón O’Brien-Whitmarsh ash he switched to a 4-4-2 in the hope of snatching an equaliser, but it’s not likely to become the default system.
“Just as the game went on, I felt that we needed to get two strikers up there,” he says.
“Cabinteely defended deep and we had to break them down – sometimes, that can be difficult when a team uses a low block.
“We put two strikers up there and we went a small bit direct and we had one or two chances. As the game went, I just felt that we needed to change it.
“We had a lot of possession of the ball, we just couldn’t put it in the back of the net. We had our chances but Cabinteely defended well.
“I like my teams to keep possession of the ball. I know that, sometimes, you will give it away, I understand that, but I thought against Cabinteely we gave it away too cheaply.
“It’s something we have to get better at going forward and hopefully we can start doing that on Friday night.”
The result leaves City in fifth place, with Cabinteely the only side to have won two from two.
“Obviously, the first game was always going to be tough against Cobh and we got the three points,” Healy says.
“The game against Cabinteely was difficult, they sat back in and we had a lot of possession but we couldn’t break them down. They had one shot on target and it went in, a deflection.
“We’re only two games in and things are going okay. Would you have liked to get the three points against Cabinteely? Yes you would, but unfortunately we didn’t.”
Now the focus shifts to Athlone, who enjoyed a 3-1 win over John Caulfield’s Galway United last week.
“They’re a good side and we’ve seen videos of them,” Healy says.
“It’ll be another tough game Friday night, as every game will be this year.
“Adam Wixted is a left-footed player playing wide right and they have James Doona playing wide left,” he says.
“Centre-forward is Stephen Meaney and they have Curtis Byrne playing in the ‘10’ so they’ve some very good attacking players.
“They’re very dangerous on the transitions so it’s one that we need to keep an eye on.
“They’re a good team, very strong on the break. It’s going to be difficult but you’d always like to win your home games as it is going to be a difficult league this year, as everybody has seen so far.”