FRIDAY: SSE Airtricity League First Division: Cork City v Treaty United, Turner's Cross, 7:45pm.
AFTER two games on the road, Cork City return to Turner's Cross looking to get back to winning ways against Treaty United.
City come into the game after suffering a 2-1 defeat against Shelbourne, and will be looking to get their season back on track against the Limerick outfit, who have surprised everyone this campaign by what they have achieved to date.
No one would have expected Treaty to be sitting third in the table at this stage, and the same can be said about City’s positioning in the league. The Rebel Army are currently second bottom in the division and are 10 points worse off than Treaty.
Yes, City have excuses to reasons why things haven’t gone right for them.
They haven’t been able to recruit the players they would have liked because of finances, and the club delayed appointing Colin Healy as manager, something that wouldn’t have helped the former Republic of Ireland international’s preparations, yet the same excuses can be said about Treaty – and they had less time to prepare for the season and I would imagine a weaker budget to recruit players – but they have surpassed all expectations.
The truth is, if Treaty can do what they have achieved then there should be no reason why City aren’t competing at the top end of the table.
Unlike, in their previous two games against Athlone Town and Shelbourne, where City’s tactic was more about being disciplined out of possession, the onus will be on The Rebel Army to attack Treaty.
City are still only six-points off the play-offs but if they want to start pushing up the table, these are the type of games they have to win.
That’s no disrespect to Treaty, but City should be beating most teams in this division at home.
Now, I would have said the same before City’s last home game against Cabinteely, and we all know how that played out.
On that night, City gave the returning fans little hope that they could turn their season around, and although there won’t be as many spectators tonight that were in attendance against Cabinteely, City cannot afford to send them away from Turner's Cross disappointed again.
One player City will be without is Jack Baxter who has returned to Preston North End following the end of his loan.
Baxter was a player who showed glimpses of brilliance – most notably his goal against Galway United – but lacked consistency and I expected more from a player contracted to a Championship club in England.
Set-pieces will play a major part in the outcome of the game. Healy spoke before the game against Shels about how dangerous the Dublin side were from set-plays, and unfortunately for City, they conceded from a set-piece.
Watching that goal back, the City defence never got the right side of Michael O’Connor.
It seemed that it was Gearoid Morrissey’s job to pick up the Shels player but rather than mark him from the front or side, he marked O’Connor from behind, which meant the striker was always favourite to win the header.
Against Treaty, City will be wary of the threat posed by Tommy Barrett’s team at set-plays.
In the sides last meeting – a game Treaty won 2-1 – the Limerick’s side two goals came from set-plays.
In Marc Lunden, Treaty have a player, that probably has the longest throw in the league. Barrett’s side play to their strengths and in a small pitch like Turner's Cross, Ludden could be the most dangerous player on the field.
I always hated watching the analysis of our upcoming opposition and seeing the team contain a player with a long throw.
It’s disheartening as a player going back and defending every time the ball goes out of play in your half.
It does play on your mind as a player, to try and keep the ball in play, in defensive areas, rather than just clear it out of play, because players are aware they will have to defend the throw-in.
That can lead to defenders taking more risk and might lead to a mistake that costs the team a goal.
Although, Treaty are 10 points ahead of City, all of the pressure will be on Healy’s side to get the victory.
After tonight’s game, the season will be over the halfway mark and time will be running out for City to salvage their season if they don’t start picking up wins.