TONIGHT: SSE Airtricity League First Division: Bray Wanderers v Cork City, Carlisle Grounds, 7.45pm.
THIS isn’t necessarily a must-win for Cork City, but it’s a game they can’t afford to lose.
The Rebel Army need to stop the rot of four consecutive league defeats and that won’t be easy against a Bray side who are yet to hit top gear this season.
I still expect Bray to be there or thereabouts when it comes to promotion at the end of the season.
I was disappointed, watching the Seagulls in their 1-1 draw against Cobh Ramblers last weekend.
Given the players they have in their squad, Bray underwhelmed me, but speaking to one of the team, it seems that Bray had a game plan against Cobh to be tough to beat and to nick a goal, which worked perfectly, until Richard O’Farrell’s clumsy challenge. That gave away the penalty for Ramblers to equalise.
I expect Bray to try and control the game more tomorrow, against Cork City, and to try and dominate possession.
Former City defender Aaron Barry brings organisation and leadership to the team and Andrew Quinn, playing alongside him, looks an excellent young player.
The good news for City is that Jack Walsh has returned from suspension and I would imagine he will go straight back into the side and will be a test for Barry and Quinn.
City struggled at set-pieces against Treaty United and Walsh’s height should help with that problem.
The Rebel Army have struggled to score goals this season — three in five games — but midfielder Alec Byrne was quick to acknowledge, earlier this week, that the supply to the forwards hasn’t been good enough.
“We need to be creating more chances for the strikers to put away for us and then put the games to bed,” said Byrne.
“I think it comes from everyone, really, from the dressing room, to demand more from each other and for everyone to really pull up their socks now, when it is needed.”
Confidence is so important for teams and, with their poor start, morale must be low in the City dressing room.
If the City players dwell on past games too much, then it will be difficult for them to start picking up results.
Byrne is aware that the team must learn from their errors, but also not feel sorry for themselves, if they want to succeed.
When you’re going on a few bounces of losses, obviously, it is really disappointing, but, as footballers, you have to forget that.
"We have been working hard because we are trying to keep positives. Really, it’s very early on in the season, so we’re not too worried. We need to start putting in performances and, more importantly, getting results.
“We go to every game believing we can win. The last five games of the season, bar when we got the man sent off against Shelbourne, which was tough, I don’t think any team really outplayed us or really cut us open.
"I think, we can take a lot confidence knowing that we are playing well in most games, so we need to tweak a few small little errors and be ruthless in front of goal. I don’t see why we can’t get a good result on Friday."
Byrne has been one of City’s better players this year.
He always wants the ball and gives an option to his teammates. He’s very calm in possession, but he just needs to add goals to his game.
It’s a big test for the City midfield tonight. They need to make sure that they stop Bray’s Conor Clifford from controlling the game. Everything Bray do well goes through Clifford, so stopping him hinders Bray’s play.
Brandon Kavanagh is another player of whom City need to be wary.
The Shamrock Rovers loanee has already shown an eye for goal this season, scoring three times and, for me, he is the best player in the division. I was surprised to see him play on the wing last week, against Cobh, and although he scored, I felt he was wasted out there.
Kavanagh is best when he plays in the No 10 role. He can hurt teams more playing in the middle.
Playing away from home is always tough and Bray are a good side.
Obviously, City will want to win, but I don’t think a draw would be a bad result.