CORK City will feel deflated after conceding a last-minute equaliser in their 1-1 draw against Galway United at Turner's Cross on Friday night, but they can have few complaints about the result.
Although Galway played the entire second half with only 10-men, apart from the goal, City never really threatened John Caulfield’s side.
Galway going down to 10-men before half-time changed the complexity of the game. Up until the sending-off, Colin Healy’s team looked comfortable in possession and trouble the Galway defence. Second half was a different story. Galway looked the more threatening of the sides and City were sloppy in possession.
It can be difficult playing against a team that is a man down. Galway were more open in the first half but concentrated more defensively when they went a man down and created a lot of chances on the counterattack and through set-pieces.
Having a man extra, put added pressure on the City players because they knew it was a golden opportunity for them to get three points, but they couldn’t manage the game and their lack of experienced showed.
Galway showed all their experience in the second half by slowing the game at every opportunity and didn’t allow City to find any rhythm. Referee, Alan Carey didn’t help City by awarding free-kicks for every little challenge, which stopped it from being a free-flowing contest.
Galway knew all the tricks in the book by play-acting every time a player was fouled, in order to convince the referee to book a City player. Healy’s team are a young side and are too naïve at the moment.
Every time a Galway player was fouled, there were two or three Tribesmen in the referee's ear questioning should the City player be booked. Yet when it came to a City player being fouled, his teammates weren’t in the referee’s ear having a word about potentially booking a Galway player.
City settled the better of the sides and although I’ve been an admirer of his performances this season, I wasn’t surprised to see Jack Walsh on the bench for the Rebel Army against Galway. The former Avondale player has been a good addition for City and has quickly become a fan-favourite but has looked tired over the last few games and needed to be rested.
His replacement Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh started the game well but faded out of the match and wasted an excellent opportunity late on in the game to double City’s lead. The absence of Walsh meant that City operated without a target man and tried to play the ball into the feet of Cian Murphy and O’Brien-Whitmarsh as much as they could.
It did bring joy in the opening of the game but as the match progressed the City strikers were getting little joy and I would have liked to have seen Walsh introduced earlier in the game.
After the first round of fixtures, I would have expected a better return than nine points from City. Yes, they are a young side, but it is still Cork City, and to be third bottom of the First Division is simply not good enough.
However, after a poor start, their results and performances in their last four fixtures, show signs that they are capable of moving up the table and getting into the playoffs. They have collected points away to Bray Wanderers and UCD. Comfortable beaten Wexford, and although it will feel like points dropped, they still managed to get a point against Galway, who should be challenging at the top come the end of the season.
There hasn’t really been a game this season where City have been outclassed by the opposition. They have conceded some soft goals, particularly from set-pieces, but seem to have sorted their defensive issues in recent games, conceding just once in their last four games.
City do have an issue offensively. Apart from their victory over Wexford Youths, City have rarely threatened in games and clearly lack a goal scorer. However, in the strikers’ defence, there aren’t a lot of opportunities been created for them and the onus shouldn’t just be on the strikers to come up with the goals.