FRIDAY: SEE Airtricity League First Division: Wexford Youths v Cork City, Ferrycarrig Park, 7.45pm.
IT’S the meeting of the bottom two in the league and with the play-offs looking out of reach for City, their 12 remaining fixtures are about building for next season.
It’s not impossible that City can make the play-offs, but they are nine points adrift of fifth-placed Bray Wanderers and have only accumulated 13 points from their 15 league games, so it’s hard to see City achieving such a feat.
The Rebel Army will still be kicking themselves for the way they threw away a two-goal lead against Bray.
Had they have held on, they would have been just six points off Bray and would have had the belief they could have made up the ground on a team that they had just played off the park.
However, the manner in which they conceded the late goals will have the players thinking that they have no luck and some will be counting down the days for the season to end.
The harsh reality is, that the current group of players are not good enough to get City promoted.
City are one of the biggest clubs in the country yet sit second bottom of the first division.
At first, when results weren’t going their way, I always felt that City would turn things around and at least finish fifth in a league that contains 10 teams.
I think City fans gave the benefit of the doubt to the players at the beginning because they were an inexperienced side and needed time to learn. We are 15 games into the season and it doesn’t seem to be the case that the players are learning.
I keep hearing the word ‘mistakes’ being mentioned after games, but when mistakes happen in every match, they are no longer mistakes, they are the norm.
City keep gifting goals to opposition teams. The last time these sides met, City convincingly dispatched of Wexford, beating them 5-0.
Although Wexford have only picked up one victory all season, they are a much better team than the side the played at Turner’s Cross. The main reason for that is the appointment of Ian Ryan as manager at the end of May.
Youths are better defensively but are still vulnerable at the back — conceding nine goals in their last three games. They have been unlucky in their last two outings conceding very late against both Athlone Town and UCD.
Conceding late goals can come down to a number of factors but watching Wexford, it seems they tire towards the end of games.
City have been guilty of conceding late goals this season, I don’t think it’s because of fitness, it's more to do with their lack of experience to manage games and see them out.
City, like they did against Bray, will have to start the game on the front foot and try and get an early goal.
Ferrycarrig is a wide pitch and it will be important that City keep possession.
Performances have improved recently, and one of the reasons for this is that, in possession, City are being purposeful with the ball.
At the beginning of the season City were too predictable with the ball and players were taking the easy option of passing backwards or sideways.
I expect Ryan’s side will sit off and allow City to keep the ball. City must not fall into a false sense of just playing everything in front of Wexford; they must persist with getting good service to the strikers as quickly as they can.
Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh and Cian Murphy have been in excellent form of late and their confidence will be high going into the game.
The former missed several chances last week but will be satisfied that he is getting into the right areas in the pitch to get opportunities.
I’ve seen O’Brien-Whitmarsh first-hand in training and he is a very good finisher. Last week was hopefully a one-off for him and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the scoresheet against Wexford.
Murphy got another two against Bray and has come into real form after scoring four goals in his last three games.
Perhaps with the transfer window open and all the talk all season about City needing to sign a striker, that O’Brien-Whitmarsh and Murphy have upped their game to show that they want to fight for their futures at the club, which should be the case with many others.