Cork City must now show the fans what they're really made of

After their 24-game unbeaten run came to an end, they must remain in control of the First Division title race by winning on Monday
Cork City must now show the fans what they're really made of

Cork City's Dylan McGlade attempts to outrun Treaty Utd's Ben O'Riordan at Turner's Cross. Picture: Howard Crowdy

AFTER a string of results propelled Cork City into a three-point lead at the top of the First Division table, the club were brought back down to earth with a 2-0 defeat to Treaty United at Turner’s Cross on Friday evening.

The loss brought a shuddering halt to the freight train of momentum behind Colin Healy and the team following their 24-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Up until Friday, City were a settled unit and it was reflected in their results. Only once during this streak did they go into halftime losing, and they came back that night to beat Athlone Town 2-1 away from home.

Almost everyone knows their place in that group. David Harrington is the goalkeeper who has started every game in the league this year. Ruairi Keating and Cian Murphy lead the line, and so far they’ve tallied 16 league goals between them.

The only positions Colin Healy has to make changes to is in midfield and the backline. In recent weeks, Joshua Honohan has deputised for Jonas Häkkinen, who has been out since the Galway United game on July 15. The trio of Matt Healy, Aaron Bolger, and Darragh Crowley have been repeatedly rotated throughout July and August.

With such a steady pattern of play, two things are possible. Either a team goes out and mechanically gets games wrapped up well before the full-time whistle, or the slightest misstep and they are knocked off balance. What happened on Friday was the latter, as City lost by two goals for the first time all season.

When the game kicked off, Louis Britton pushed up and put a low ball into the box for Ruairi Keating. It looked to be business as usual but Treaty scrambled this clear, just before the striker could get a touch.

Even when Ben O’Riordan stole the ball from Barry Coffey and the defender made it 1-0 to Treaty, City stuck to the game plan which served them so well in recent weeks. The ball was sent to Dylan McGlade and Ruairi Keating stayed inside the area, waiting for the winger’s delivery.

It never came because Treaty retreated into a low block and this cut off any space inside the area. City coped well as they were dominating possession and getting the ball into the box. Their chance to equalise came from a Matt Healy corner and this was headed off the crossbar by Jonas Hakkinen.

NEW TERRITORY

Then, five minutes into the second half, Treaty were given a penalty and Marc Ludden converted. This was totally new territory for Cork City as they were 2-0 down for the first time all season.

Treaty Utd keeper Jack Btrady holds onto the ball ahead of Cork City's Ruairí Keating. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Treaty Utd keeper Jack Btrady holds onto the ball ahead of Cork City's Ruairí Keating. Picture: Howard Crowdy

That penalty ended up being a sucker punch to Colin Healy and his team. They immediately pushed up in numbers and everything that was thrown at Treaty was swatted away. When City brought on James Doona, Cian Murphy, and Josh Honohan, they had minimal impact as they faced the same blue and red wall that frustrated the players they replaced.

Cian Murphy’s night exemplified City’s as every ball in for the striker was headed down by Sean Guerins and knocked away.

The Rebel Army looked frantic as they searched for something to ignite a comeback. Apart from a late Keating header that hit the roof of the net, Treaty easily dealt with anything that was thrown at them in the final third At the end of the night the result wasn’t too damaging for their title aspirations as Galway United lost to Waterford at the RSC.

The second chance has allowed the team to answer the sting question from Friday night; how will they respond?

They could start out on Monday with a point to prove and end up 1-0 down from a counterattack. Or, the team could go back to basics and move on from Friday.

People can take comfort in the fact that the last time the team dropped three points, they didn’t lose a game for six months.

Regardless of this, squad mentality will be key on Monday, and City will need to make up for losing their collective temperament when Marc Ludden scored that second-half penalty.

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