TONIGHT: League of Ireland First Division: Athlone Town v Cobh Ramblers: 7.45pm.
A LONG trip to face Athlone Town is on the agenda for Cobh Ramblers tonight at the Athlone Town Stadium.
Even just to boost morale alone, a positive result would be something much welcomed within the Cobh camp.
It has been a tough opening third of the 2021 season for Ramblers results-wise, mainly because some of the Cobh performances in the games to date this season could warrant more.
But it is small things that are proving to be very costly from a Cobh point of view after performing quite well, something which has become an unfortunate common theme across most of the games which Ramblers have lost. One thing based on the performances so far this season is that you cannot fault this Ramblers side for their work-rate.
Last time out Cobh more than matched a Shelbourne side who are considered by many to be the favourites for the First Division title, playing some good football at times and causing Ian Morris’s side numerous problems.
But unfortunately for Cobh it was once again this season a case of close but no cigar, which is perhaps most frustrating because Ramblers have been competitive in nearly all their games, but only six goals scored this season shows they are not converting enough of their chances.
It is now over a month since Ramblers last tasted victory away to Wexford, losing three and drawing once in the league games since then. As they make the trip to Athlone, Stuart Ashton’s side will be looking to end a difficult run of results.
One can make a strong case that the performances which Cobh have been putting in at times do not reflect a side towards the bottom of the table.
From the perspective of the Ramblers players, midfielder David O’Leary is hoping their fortunes can turn around soon.
It is a bitter pill to swallow.
"The amount Shels are after investing in the team, along with the performances we have been putting in for the last few weeks, does not reflect where we are in the table. Going one up, getting the penalty and we had another few chances.
“But it is just the way it has been rolling for us at the moment. We can say it is unlucky, but it is happening quite a bit now at the moment.
“But we are not even a third of the way through the season and there is a long way to go yet.
“You can see what is happening at the moment within the First Division. Apart from the UCD game here, where after 20 minutes UCD took over and were the better team.
“But in every other game, things just are not falling our way. We have just got to learn from it and move on because if we keep performing the way we are it has to change.
“I think we would rather play poor, get the three points and move up the table. But keep doing what we are doing and it is bound to change.”
As for Cobh’s opposition tonight, Athlone are looking to end their own recent slip-up in form. They have lost the last three games in a row, but are currently third in the First Division table after what was a very impressive start to the season.
Athlone boss Adrian Carberry recruited shrewdly from around the League of Ireland for the 2021 season, with the club looking well placed for their best chance at promotion since they last got promoted to the Premier Division in 2013.
Among the key players from an Athlone perspective is Kurtis Byrne, a man who played a role in helping Dundalk to two Premier Division titles in 2014 and 2015. Byrne also performed well in the Premier Division for Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic.
Among the other key men for Athlone include goalkeeper Micheal Schlingerman and former Bray man Killian Cantwell, who made the First Division team of the year for 2020.
Wins this season for Athlone at home to Galway and away to Cork City and Bray Wanderers proved a firm statement of early intent.
But subsequent defeats to Cabinteely, Shelbourne and Treaty mean Athlone will be keen to use the Cobh clash to get back on track.
As they make the trip to Athlone, Cobh Ramblers will be hoping they can put their agony of recent weeks aside and come away with at least a point from the Midlands.
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