CORK CITY travel to the Carlisle Grounds tonight to face Bray.
It’s a must-win game for Colin Healy’s side. City have just one win in their opening five games and the pressure is on.
Healy knows that four consecutive losses is not good enough, but how much hurt are the players feeling?
Surely, some pride should kick in and the players should lift their game, because, at the moment, they just aren’t good enough.
Yes, we all knew the First Division would be tough, and the division is probably the most competitive it has been in over a decade. However, a club like Cork City, they shouldn’t be struggling as much as they are.
So, why are they? Their inability to put the ball in the back of the net and their inability to defend.
City have scored just four goals and have conceded eight. The majority of their conceded goals have been sloppy and mainly from set-pieces.
Dealing with balls into the danger area, especially from set-pieces, is something Healy’s players need to improve on. If they can improve at preventing goals, it will give them more confidence at scoring goals. Defending well will create a platform from which to attack.
There’s no denying that City are without a big-name striker. Their main target man is Jack Walsh and though he has impressed, he hasn’t actually scored. However, he has been a threat and has been causing problems for opposition defences.
So, where else are the goals going to come from?
Cian Coleman is excellent from set-pieces and his header against Treaty United was a bullet. He also scored in the opening game, against Cobh Ramblers.
Dylan McGlade and Cian Bargarry can score goals, but they need to do it soon, as the longer City go without scoring, the bigger the problem gets. Walsh returns tonight, after suspension, and I expect he will come straight back into the team.
Healy needs him there.
At the other end, Healy knows that conceding sloppy goals has been the main cause of their recent losses. How can this be fixed?
You would imagine that defending from set-pieces was a main area Healy and his staff would continue to work at in training. Healy has repeatedly stated that his players’ attitude and work-rate in training aren't the issue.
Healy also stated that standards have never dropped and that if he thought players were just going through the motions, then he would have a problem, but he said this isn’t the case.
So, is it that the players simply aren’t good enough?
They are a young side. However, surely, six games into the season, the lads should be up to speed with the standard and shouldn’t be daunted. Hopefully, tonight things can turn around for Healy and his players.
It’s not that the players are playing badly, it’s that their lapses of concentration are letting them down.
Mark McNulty will not be happy with five games without a clean sheet, but he hasn’t been to blame for the majority of the goals. He does, however, need to use his experience to get his back four dealing better with balls played into the box.
Bray, tonight, will be another tough encounter. They are a good side and although the Seagulls are looking for their first win of the campaign, they haven’t been doing too badly, with four draws and one loss.
They have scored five goals while conceding six, so, both defensively and in attack, they seem to be fairly strong.
Meanwhile, Cobh Ramblers will host John Caulfield’s Galway United side, at St Colman’s Park, tomorrow evening.
Stuart Ashton’s men will be looking to continue their form from their previous two games: They have picked up four points, with a win against Wexford, and a draw with Bray last weekend.
Ashton has juggled his starting XI a little, with plenty of calibre on the bench, which shows the strength in his squad.
Caulfield’s men come into the game off the back of a draw against UCD, and previous to that was another draw, against Treaty, so they will be eager to get back to winning ways and I expect this to be a tough encounter.
Two tough games this weekend for both Cork sides, but let’s hope we can see positive results.