THE 4-0 scoreline flattered Galway United, but Cobh Ramblers did themselves no favours against John Caulfield’s team in St Colman’s Park on Saturday night.
It was always going to be a difficult game for Stuart Aston’s side, against one of the title favourites, and any chance they had of winning went out the window after 20 minutes when Ramblers were reduced to 10 men after Charlie Lyons was sent-off for handling the ball on the line.
Ramblers can have few complaints about the sending-off and, in hindsight, it would have been better had Lyons left the ball hit the net, now knowing that Galway scored from the resulting penalty anyway.
It was a great save by Lyons, but it was a moment of madness. Had it been 0-0 with very few minutes remaining in the game, then I would agree with a player taking the decision to sacrifice himself and take the risk of the opponents missing the penalty. But here, even if Galway had missed the resulting penalty, 70 minutes is a long time to play with 10 men trying to get a positive result.
In Lyons’ defence, I don’t think he thought about what he was doing. What he did was instinctive. We often see players handle balls in the box and think, ‘what was he doing?' And the player himself probably doesn’t know. At least Lyons was trying to prevent a goal.
The former Preston player wouldn’t be happy in the role his keeper Sean Barron played in the lead-up. Barron was excellent all night, making some great saves and coming for and gathering crosses, but he made a mistake in the build-up to Lyons' dismissal.
He committed to come and get the ball from the Galway free into the box but ended up in no man’s land and, sadly for keepers, when they make a mistake, they are usually punished for it.
It can be difficult playing against a side with a man less because you are expected to go on and score more goals and dominate the game.
It creates pressure and can change a game plan you have worked on all week. Galway, at times in the game, appeared to be more comfortable in the first 20 minutes of the match, playing against 11, than they did against 10.
Ramblers took the game to Galway at the start of the second half. They didn’t deploy the usual tactic of a team being a man down — sitting deep trying to hold out and hoping to nick a goal from a set-piece.
Their attacking approach seemed to surprise Galway and they struggled against Ashton’s side until John Caulfield made the decision to switch to a 4-3-3 formation.
Once Galway converted their second penalty it was game over. It was a tough pill to swallow for the Ramblers’ players and they lost their discipline after that, making it easy for Galway to get in behind them and add two more goals.
Ramblers are a team that works hard for one another and that will take a team a long way in the league. However, to reach that next level and be a team that is challenging at the top, I feel Ramblers are missing a player that brings something different to the team.
The player that excites you when he gets on the ball because he can make something happen from nothing.
I love the honesty from Ramblers, but sometimes you need that player who brings that spark to the team and I feel that is what Ramblers are missing at this moment.
It was a very important win for Galway. It’s no secret Caulfield’s players are the higher earners in the league, and they will be relieved to have recorded their first win of the season.
They are under huge pressure to get promoted because I’m sure there will be consequences if they don’t. They weren’t brilliant against Ramblers, but I do think there is a big improvement to come from them.
Getting that victory should give Caulfield’s side confidence and I expect them to put a consistent run of wins together now.