THERE was a lot of pressure on Cork City heading into their game against Wexford Youths at Turner's Cross on Friday night. It was a game City were expected not only to win but win well and they did just that.
The 5-0 scoreline was a fair reflection of the game and will give a young squad belief that they are capable of making a promotion push this season.
As a player, games like this – matches you are expected to win comfortably – are always difficult to play in. If you win, people tend to view it more that the opposition were poor rather than you were good. And if you lose, you are fearful of the backlash you will receive.
Youths weren’t good on the night, but credit must go to Colin Healy’s side for the hunger and determination they showed to put five goals past Wexford.
The last two games have seen a different approach from City. In their first four fixtures, they were guilty of slow build-up play that often saw them lose possession in dangerous areas of the pitch.
Against Bray Wanderers and in particular, against Wexford, they got the ball to the strikers, a lot quicker and gave them support. It might not be the pretty, passing football that City were trying in the opening few games of the season but it’s getting them results.
That’s not to say they went direct all the time against Wexford. They picked the right times to pass the ball across the back of defence when they needed to settle the game. The opening 10 minutes were not what you would call the ‘beautiful game’ but that was to be expected when it’s two teams that had struggled in the league and were desperate for points.
The on-loan Preston North End player was impressive on the night and seems the more games he plays, the better he is getting, and still don’t think he his fully fit yet. He does bring energy to the City midfield and gets about the pitch, but I still feel there is more to come from him and that will come after he plays five or six games consecutively.
Baxter started in City first two games but didn’t start in the next three. Players need to be playing week-in-week-out to be fully match-fit and produce their best form.
It’s very difficult for a player to play two games, come out of the team for weeks, and then be put back into the team. Baxter will probably get more of a consistent run in the team now that City are producing positive results and I think we will see a much better player in a few weeks than the good player we are seeing now.
It was pleasing to see Cian Murphy, Beineon O’Brien-Whitemarsh and Darragh Crowley all get off the mark against Wexford and should give all three players a lot of confidence.
Murphy started on the wing against Youths but moved more centrally and looked far more comfortable in that position. His work-rate cannot be questioned and was rewarded for chasing down Tracey for his second goal. His hold-up play was the best I’d seen from him and he caused Youths all sorts of problems.
Crowley’s goal was an excellent finish. To generate the power to loop his header over Tracey was a difficult skill and again like Murphy, puts the needs of the team before his own and worked tirelessly for the cause.
O’Brien-Whitemarsh came on to make his sixth substitute appearance of the season and took his goals really well. O’Brien-Whitemarsh is a different player to Murphy and Crowley. He’s sharper in and around the penalty area and a more natural finisher than his teammates.
His first goal was a gift from Tracey, but he was quickest to react to the keeper’s error and it’s the type strikers love to get. He made his second goal look easy, but it was quick feet from the youngster, and he’s made it difficult for manager Colin Healy to leave him out against UCD next week.
The only disappointment on the night was that Jack Walsh wasn’t on the scoresheet because I believe he is City’s main striker.