HAVING fans back at the Cross wasn’t enough to spur on Colin Healy’s Cork City side or turn the tide in an increasingly frustrating season as they suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Cabinteely on Friday night.
It was a perfect night for a game of football. Glorious sunshine, and 600 supporters inside the stadium which we hoped would be a special occasion.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for City.
City made two changes from the team who lost to Cobh Ramblers in their previous game just before the break. Ronan Hurley and Dylan McGlade replaced Gearoid Morrissey and Jonas Hakkinen, both of whom weren’t named on the team sheet due to injury.
The two replacements I was happy enough to see as I always believe Hurley is solid at left-back while McGlade is a positive attacking threat that City badly need.
Before the game, we spoke about what type of impact the crowds could have on the game. Could the supporters turn things around for City in the league or will the pressure from fans be too much for the young side?
To be fair I thought the crowd were excellent and their enthusiasm certainly gave the players the much-needed lift they needed. This was very evident from the very first minute onwards.
They worked hard and got into the final third on many occasions however they found it very difficult to break down Cabinteely’s back four of Daniel Blackbyrne, Kevin Knight, Zak O’Neill and Luke McWilliams, and therefore they created very little. Cian Coleman, Jack Baxter and Cian Bargarry all had half-decent efforts on goal but nothing to worry the visitors' keeper, Harry Halwax.
It was disappointing to see City concede just after the half-hour mark which was against the run of play when Vilius Labutis hit the back of the net after a slight deflection. To be fair it was poor defending from City.
Initially, it was a slip from Bargarry who lost possession however the amount of time Labutis got to line up his shot at the edge of the box was ridiculous.
The second half was much the same as the first as City continued to control possession but again created no clear-cut chances which is a major worry at this stage of the competition. Keeping clean sheets and putting the ball in the back of the net are major concerns for Healy’s side and this is becoming more evident as the season goes on.
I was hoping that after the mid-season break, the players would be rejuvenated and maybe produce better performances from here on in. And while I thought they passed the ball well and kept possession well, it’s just not good enough if they fail to do anything in the final third of the pitch.
It is very frustrating to watch because no matter how hard the team works, and I’m not disputing that case, but the fact is, there simply is no player on the squad that is liable to put the ball in the back of the net week after week.
The one improvement I saw from Friday’s game was the tempo of the game and I would imagine the supporters played a huge role in that. As I said the players seem to enjoy the atmosphere and constant clapping from the crowd and you could see they played with a bit more intensity however through all their hard work, they failed to give the fans anything to really clap about.
Although they might have groaned a few times when City continued to pass across the backline, mainly their complaints came from the performance of the referee Ray Matthews.
Let’s just say he had one of his usual games, and again the City faithful and players were left frustrated at the final whistle.
On a positive note, Stuart Ashton’s Cobh Ramblers secured a shock 2-1 victory away to UCD. Earlier in the season Ramblers suffered a 4-0 defeat to the same opposition in St Colman’s Park, so it was great to see the Cork side build from their previous win over Cork City just before the break.
A brace from Jake Hegarty, who was also the goalscorer against Cork City was enough to secure three points on the road.
Next up for Ashton’s side is a home tie against Treaty. A game in which Ramblers are more than capable of securing a further three points.