FRIDAY: SSE Airtricity First Division: Cork City v Bray Wanderers, Turner's Cross, 7:45pm.
CORK CITY'S game against Bray Wanderers really is their last chance saloon if they have any hopes of making the play-offs.
The Seagulls currently occupy the final play-off spot and anything but victory against Gareth Cronin’s side will end City’s chance of promotion this season.
The last time these teams meet, they played out a dull 0-0 draw at the Carlisle Grounds.
City understandable that night were very defensive but they cannot afford to go into this game in the same mindset.
A draw is simply not a good enough result. Bray went into that fixtures without a win in their first five games but have turned a corner since playing City, and have won five of the last eight matches.
I’ve always thought the Bray have one of the best squads in the league and they have started to show their true talent in recent weeks.
City boss Colin Healy has chopped and changed the team’s formation all season.
Against Treaty United, City went with a 4-4-2 and I would hope, that we see the same against Bray.
Yes, City lost the game, but the performance was one of their best of the season and they looked as if they could score when they went forward – something that hasn’t been visible during the previous games - because of the number of players that were in the opposition box.
Strikers Cian Murphy and Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh got on the scoresheet against Treaty, and even though the team lost, their confidence will be sky high going into this game.
When it comes to defenders and midfielders the result of the previous game might matter more to the confidence they have leading into a game but with a striker, it’s mostly about, scoring in the last game.
As a striker, you always feel pressure going into games because you feel you will be judged on if you score or not. But when you’ve scored in the previous game, you feel more relaxed because if you don’t score in the next game, at least you goal drought is only one game.
It’s when you haven’t scored in three or four matches is when you really start feeling the pressure.
Apart from their goals, I thought their all round game was good.
Because of the pace O’Brien-Whitmarsh and Murphy have, they will always worry defenders and the Bray defence aren’t the most mobile.
They won’t enjoy playing against the City strikers, if it is O’Brien-Whitmarsh and Murphy that start, because the Bray defenders know against them, they will be chasing balls in behind rather than when they play against a striker that likes the ball to feet and the game is then in front of them.
Again, last week defending set-pieces was City’s downfall.
I expect the first corner, or free-kick City give away in a dangerous position, will have the players on edge because they will remember last week’s game.
I don’t think it’s a case of the players switching off at set-pieces, they are just not showing enough aggressive and responsibility to go and head the ball away or to not let their man get away from them.
Sometimes at set-pieces, it’s not even about a defender getting to the ball, it’s about concentrating on the man you are marking and just stopping him from getting to it.
That can be risky because referees might give a penalty but if a player is clever enough, there are ways of stopping a player, perhaps illegally, without catching the attention of the referee.
I always waited until last minute to pull a player’s shirt.
It’s never a good idea doing it at the very start when the opposition are arriving into the box because that just draws the attention of the referee to you straight away.
The return of supporters to Turners Cross was something I had hoped would have changed City’s fortunes but they have lost their two home games in which the fans have been allowed into the grounds.
I believe the return of supporters have improved City’s performances, we are just waiting for the results to go their way now.
With 13 games left in the season, realistically, City need to win at least eight of their remaining matches to have any chance of finishing in the playoffs, and that’s a tall ask when you consider they have only won three of their 14 games so far this season.