THIS is a game that the City players will be looking forward to.
Despite being favourites for the match, there will be a lot less pressure on the City players than there has been in recent weeks. The league is City’s priority this season and any slip-up could mean them missing out on promotion.
The FAI Cup gives the players almost a ‘free hit’, in that everyone associated with the club won’t be overly concerned if they were to exit the competition at this early stage.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the players will be taking this game lightly. Win this, and City are only three victories away from the Aviva Stadium.
But again, winning the FAI Cup is not something that manager Colin Healy would have targeted before the season began.
The old argument of cup competitions being a distraction for a team with something to play for in the league, will be a topic of conversation ahead of this game for City fans. I doubt any City fan would prefer to win the FAI Cup than gain promotion this season.
Winning the FAI Cup would mean the club would be back in Europe next year but it is more important they are competing in the top tier.
Healy won’t underestimate Cobh, and he will be just as motivated to win this game as every match between now and the end of the season, but he could experiment a little with his team selection for this fixture.
I’m not saying that that experiment should be Healy resting a lot of his regular starters and giving a lot of younger players an opportunity like he would for the Munster Senior Cup, but it could be that City change from their usual 3-5-3 formation to perhaps a 4-3-3.
I’m sure City would have worked on different formations in the training ground throughout the year, but Healy will only properly see what his players are like playing in a different system in a competitive match.
There might be a game, or a time in a match before the end of the season where Healy will feel he does need to change his side from the 3-5-2 and it would be good for the manager to know that he has used it in a competitive match like this game before rather than test it out in a more important league game.
I thought Louis Britton might start in City’s last outing against Wexford.
There aren’t many games remaining between now and the end of the season and he will need to start playing more minutes if he wants to make the impact everyone believed he would when he signed.
It would probably suit him more playing in a 4-3-3. His strength is getting into the box and getting on the end of crosses or through balls.
I’m sure he would be a willing channel runner or a player who drops short to get the ball, traits that are more expected of you when playing as a two upfront, but they wouldn’t be his preference.
I would be very surprised not to see Britton start this encounter no matter what formation Healy decides to go with. The longer the striker remains on the sideline the more unfit he will become and like I said; he can’t afford to wait a number of weeks to get his chance and make his impact.
This is going to be a very tough game for City.
St Colman’s Park is always a difficult ground to play at and apart from this being a Cork derby, the Cobh players know that defeat against City will mean a pointless season remaining.
They do have nothing to play for in the league, but knowing they are still in the cup will motivate those players.
For City; their players will be approaching this game with the attitude of wanting to get to the next round but know the league is their priority. They know it would be very difficult for them to win the cup, whereas winning the league is more feasible and has to be their focus.