CORK CITY face their most difficult task so far this season when they travel to Dublin to take on league leaders UCD.
Before the season began, there was little talk of UCD being possible title winners. However, the Students have been the surprise package and are currently unbeaten in their seven games.
They are the highest scorers in the division, scoring 21 goals and have the joint best defensive record conceding just seven goals.
City come into the game having collected four points out of the previous two games. The Rebel Army comfortably dispatched Wexford Youths last weekend, winning 5-0, and will be hoping to continue their good form against UCD.
City boss Colin Healy was pleased with his side’s performance against Wexford but felt they could have been better in possession and knows that their game against UCD will be a difficult encounter.
“Against Wexford, I thought we were good all over the pitch. I thought that we could have kept possession a little bit better.
“We got five good goals and our work-rate off the ball was very, very good. I just thought, sometimes, when we got possession in good areas, that we gave it away too easily. It's something we have to bring back onto the training ground and improve in the players.
“Overall, I thought it was a good performance and one that we needed.
UCD are a good side. It’s a big pitch up there. They have a good way of playing.
“They play some good football. The system that they play (3-5-2) allows them to do it. It’s going to be a difficult game.
“Our lads know that it will be a tough game. We have had a look at the videos. Obviously, we have done our training sessions to get prepared for the game on Friday night.
“We will have our boys ready for them. It will be a good game. It’s one we are looking forward to.
“My mind is that no matter where we are going in the country, we are going to win the game. It will always be that way and hopefully, it will be Friday night as well, but it is going to be a very tough game. I understand that.
“There’re a good side. They are in good form. They have some good young players there. We will be organised. We will have our own way of playing against them. With the players that we have, the last few games that we have played the lads have done very, very well. There’s no reason why we can’t go up there and get three points.”
One player that has impressed in recent weeks is on-loan Preston North End player Jack Baxter.
The midfielder found himself out of the team after starting in the club's first two games but was restored to the starting 11 against Bray Wanderers.
It’s unclear whether City will continue to go with there 4-4-2 formation that has been so successful in recent weeks or whether Healy will revert back, to three in the middle to match UCD.
Baxter feels that there are benefits to both formations and they will be doing everything they can to get maximum points against UCD.
“Both (formations) have their strengths and weakness. With the two, we are more direct. We get up more. We pass around the back less. We try and be more direct and try and get up and force other teams into mistakes.
“With the three, we have more possession. So, both have pros and cons, and I feel like we are just adopting, and we will play, whatever we put out to play and do our best in our formation.
“It will be a tough game, but we understand that, and we are preparing for that.
“We will go out there, we will work hard. We will do everything that we can to come back with three points,” Baxter said.
The performances against Bray and Wexford were encouraging signs for City. The game against UCD will be a real test for City, much tougher than Bray and Wexford.
City will be without Cory Galvin, Steven Beattie, George Heaven, all of whom miss out through injury.