Cork City must beat Bray to keep the pressure on Galway United

Colin Healy's side are four points ahead in the First Division but can't afford to allow their rivals make up ground
Cork City must beat Bray to keep the pressure on Galway United

Kevin O'Connor, Cork City, after scoring against Treaty United. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

FRIDAY: SSE Airtricity League First Division: Bray Wanderers v Cork City, Carlisle Grounds, 7.45pm.

THREE points against Bray will ensure that Cork City will still be top of the table when they face Galway United in two weeks.

This will be City’s last competitive fixture before that huge encounter at Turner’s Cross on Friday two weeks, as it is their turn for a free weekend next week.

Although the players and management always want maximum points from every match, it’s especially true of this game; they will be keen for victory and ensure they remain top no matter what happens during their free weekend.

Bray are an unpredictable side, as seen with their contrasting results against City this season — a 6-0 defeat and a scoreless draw.

Despite having a poor season, they are still in with an opportunity of nicking fifth place and a play-off spot.

They certainly won’t want a repeat of their opening day result. What is apparent with Bray this season is their failings against the top sides. City are the only top three side from whom they have taken points.

There is a lack of belief in Bray in that when they go behind against the stronger sides, they can’t get back into the game.

It’s always an advantage to score early in games but I believe a quick start from City would lead to a comfortable evening for the league leaders.

Aaron Bolger, Cork City, under pressure from Colin Conroy, Treaty United. Picture: Brendan Gleeson
Aaron Bolger, Cork City, under pressure from Colin Conroy, Treaty United. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

City’s emphatic 5-0 victory over Treaty United will, of course, give them confidence, but the manner in which they beat their Munster rivals will also give them an advantage.

Before the Treaty game, considering that it was a Munster derby, I would have expected that the City players would have had to work extremely hard for the three points at the Markets Field. However, it was the opposite.

City stormed into a four-goal lead in the first half which allowed them to take their foot off the pedal and conserve energy for the Bray game. In the second half City let the ball do the work.

MATURITY

They did start the half probably using more energy than they should have because they were searching for more goals. However, as the half went on City showed maturity by just keeping the ball rather than making lung-bursting runs.

The players knew the job was done early on and that they would be better off being fresher for the Bray game rather than going all out to increase their lead.

There are a few decisions for City manager Colin Healy ahead of tonight’s game. Ally Gilchrist was on the bench against Treaty after missing the previous game against Cobh Ramblers and, considering that, I think he should be fully fit for this clash.

The cliché of never change a winning team is usually one I would agree with, especially after such a convincing win in their previous game, but there are exceptions, and when your best player is available he should always play. Apart from his defensive abilities, Gilchrist is a threat at attacking set-pieces.

It might take a goal from a set-play for City to win this game and having the Scot in the team will give the Rebel Army a better chance on that front.

It would be different if Gilchrist was coming back from a long-term injury; then it would make sense to ease him back into the side.

He was only absent for a week, so fitness shouldn’t be an issue with his selection.

James Doona has had a frustrating season, partly due to injury and partly down to him featuring very little when he is fit.

However, he made a difference when he came on against Cobh and impressed in a rare start against Treaty.

He wouldn’t have been mentioned in the conversation when Healy was discussing his starting 11 with his coaching staff a week ago, but I think he has done enough to warrant a place on the team.

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