Graham Cummins: Cork City need to start winning midfield battles

Rebel Army host Derry City on Friday night at Turner's Cross
Graham Cummins: Cork City need to start winning midfield battles

Cork City's Ethan Varian and Babatunde Owolabi collide

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Cork City v Derry City, Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm.

THIS encounter sees the clash of the Citys, with both sides needing victory for different reasons.

After a disappointing result against UCD, Cork City are becoming more aware, if they weren’t already, that this year is about survival, whereas just one victory in their last six games has seen Derry slip to third in the division and five points behind league leaders Bohemians, despite having one of the healthiest budgets in the country.

City have come in for a lot of criticism for that defeat against a very poor UCD side. Not only was the defeat difficult for supporters to take but the manner of the loss was too. 

They showed very little quality in the game, and again were outclassed in the middle of the pitch.

The middle of the pitch for me is where you control a game. Lose that battle and it’s very difficult for teams.

City come up against a Derry side, like many other teams in the division, that have quality in their midfield, no matter who plays. They have the likes of Adam O’Reilly, Sadou Diallo, and Jordon McEneff.

I would expect those three to come out on top of City’s midfield if it is the same three that started against UCD — Aaron Bolger, Cian Coleman, Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh.

City need to outnumber their opponents in the middle of the park, and a change in formation would be the only way to do this. 

Going to a back three, a formation that worked so well last year, would be my suggestion except with one alteration. Instead of playing with two up front, go with one, and use that other striker as a midfielder and play the box shape in midfield.

That way it would allow City to have four players in the middle, which would give them a numerical advantage, and give them a better chance of winning the midfield battle. That formation would be seen as more defensive than a 4-3-3 but City have been conceding goals for fun this year and need to tighten up at the back.

I expect the players to come out of the traps and fight tooth and nail for every ball because they are honest players.


I would never question their commitment but I am starting to question some of their quality. I hope they prove me wrong, and they do turn the season around, but new players are needed if City are to be more consistent in the division rather than winning the odd game.

As I have already alluded to, Derry come into the game in poor form as well.

The Candystripes have underwhelmed this season, and if City can get in front in this game then doubts will creep into the Derry players’ mind that it is going to be another bad night.

City’s home form will be crucial to them this season and it’s a game where they need to pick up points.

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