FRIDAY: SSE Airtricity League First Division: Cabinteely v Cork City, Stradbrook, 7.45pm.
CORK CITY will be hoping to make it third time lucky when they take on Cabinteely tonight.
Colin Healy’s men have suffered two defeats against Pat Devlin’s side this season, and this is a game that City have to win in order to keep their faint play-off hopes alive.
The two sides come into the game in contrasting form, with City currently on their best run this season, whereas Cabinteely have been in freefall since the sides last met. City are unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions, whereas Devlin’s side have lost seven out of their last eight matches.
This will be a much different contest to City’s recent games against the Galway United, UCD and Cobh Ramblers. All of those teams were prepared to take the game to City and go offensive against the Rebel Army but I would be surprised if we see the same tactic used by Cabinteely.
In their two successive meetings against City this season, Cabinteely have sat off Healy’s team and allowed them have the majority of possession and played on the counter-attack.
The Dubliners aren’t too proud to acknowledge that their best chance of winning games is to be efficient by allowing the opposition to dictate most of the game. Against City, they have been excellent defensively and do look dangerous on the counter-attack.
However, this is a team in poor form, and an early goal against Cabinteely would be key for City.
It would mean that Cabinteely would have to come out and attack City at some stage in the game, therefore, leaving spaces in their defence for Cian Murphy and Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh to run into.
Healy referenced the pace his team have in attack after their victory against Cobh, but pace doesn’t really matter if there is no space to run into, and that will be the case if Cabinteely get a number of men behind the ball, as they have in their previous matches against City.
This is a different City side to the team Cabinteely faced earlier in the season.
City are playing with the mentality that they have to win every game.
They are playing at a much quicker tempo and are purposefully in possession.
Whereas in the past, and especially in the games against Cabinteely, they were happy to go lateral and backwards with their passes, and never threatened teams even though they would control possession.
City have to make sure that they maintain moving the ball quickly so that it moves the Cabinteely players and drags them out of their shape. Barry Coffey scored two goals against Ramblers and his confidence will be sky high heading into this game.
His determination to get up and support the strikers and to get himself into the opposition penalty area at every opportunity has been what has impressed me most from the Celtic loanee.
Those runs might be the difference against Cabinteely because midfielders making runs into the box and beyond strikers cause confusion in defence because defenders wonder should they be picking him up — or is it the midfielder’s job to drop deep and track players like Coffey back.
The City players will be determined to get the victory against Cabinteely, not just to keep their play-off hopes alive but because they will be looking for revenge. They will be thinking that they are a better team than the Dubliners, yet they have lost to them twice this season.
I expect their mentality will be that they want to show that they are a superior side but there might be some players thinking that it is not a game they are looking forward to because they portray Cabinteely as a ‘horrible side’ because they just sit deep and defend.
These games — when one side just want to defend for 90 minutes and hope for the best — can be frustrating and all a player wants to do is just get the game over and done with, but like I wrote earlier, an early goal for City will change the complexity of the game and City will enjoy it then.
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