Cork City v Wexford: Early goal will be key at Turner's Cross

Colin Healy's side will have far too much class for the visitors on Friday night, provided they start on the right note
Cork City v Wexford: Early goal will be key at Turner's Cross

Cian Murphy, Cork City, watches his header hit the back of the net despite the challenge from Carlton Ubaezuonu, Athlone Town, in the SSE Airtricity League First Division. Picture: Ray Ryan

FRIDAY: SSE Airtricity League First Division: Cork City v Wexford, Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm.

EVERY game between now and the end of the season is going to be a tough match for City because they are that one game closer to the league title and getting the club back into the Premier Division.

The players might not admit it but they will be discussing in the dressing just what it would be like were they to win the league.

They will be imagining how they might win the league? What is a realistic possibility of a timeline for them to claim the title as early as possible?

That does bring excitement and anticipation for the players, and can be used as a motivational tool but also brings pressure.

I think in recent games we have seen both sides of that with City.

Pressure; because they were comfortably winning games and they haven’t looked as convincing as they were a few weeks ago, but also motivation/determination; because they are winning games and those players are showing exceptional character.

What has helped City in those earlier convincing victories is their ability to score early in a game.

It allowed the players to relax. They are in the mindset now of; nothing less than three points is acceptable.

So, the longer the game goes on without City being ahead, the more anxious they become and the more risks they have to take.

However, Aaron Bolger’s late winner against Athlone Town could prove to be the most important goal of the season.

It will instill a belief in the side that they don’t have to win a game in the opening stages and that they are capable of snatching victory in the final moments.

It should also make opposition teams a bit more open defensively. Teams have been happy in the past to sit on the edge of the box when defending and allow City to shoot from long-range.

However, teams will be fearful of allowing Bolger time and space to strike from long-range after his goal against Athlone and will be more inclined to step out on the player. That means it will be easier to play that crucial final pass because there will be vacant space because of an opposition player having to step out of their defensive shape to prevent the long-range strike.

City were without a game last weekend and the last time Colin Healy’s side were in a similar situation; they drew with Bray Wanderers - the only game they have dropped points in their last 11 matches.

They were slow out of the blocks in that game and never really looked like scoring until the final stages.

City are at their best when they start quickly by putting balls in behind teams and pressing quick from the front.

A big player in the way City achieved this is Cian Murphy and having looked like he was either lacking a bit of confidence or he was fatigued or perhaps a bit of both, it was good for him and more importantly, the team, that he got back on the scoresheet against Athlone.

That goal should restore his confidence and he will have benefited from the rest last week. I’m sure he will be itching to go again in this game.

Kieran Coates, Cork City in action against Carlton Ubaezuonu, Athlone Town. Picture: Ray Ryan
Kieran Coates, Cork City in action against Carlton Ubaezuonu, Athlone Town. Picture: Ray Ryan

However, as we saw in the previous meeting; Wexford are no push-overs. They were excellent that night and deserved something from the game.

However, playing in Turner’s Cross is different to Ferrycarrig Park. It’s an enclosed stadium, smaller pitch and as always; there will be a large support urging the City players on. Wexford come into the game on the back of a 4-0 defeat against Galway United.

John Caulfield’s men blitzed Ian Ryan’s side by storming into a three-goal lead inside the opening 28 minutes. I would imagine Wexford will be extremely defensive against City considering their heavy defeat against Galway.

That’s why it is so important City score an early goal, otherwise, Wexford will grow in belief that they can get something from the game and will enjoy not making it an entertaining spectacle if they feel they can get something from it by doing so.

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