Cork City must start being ruthless, game management is a major issue

Graham Cummins previews Cork City's home game with Sligo Rovers
Cork City must start being ruthless, game management is a major issue

Patrick Hoban of Dundalk shoots to score his side's second goal past Cork City goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

TONIGHT: SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Cork City v Sligo Rovers, Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm.

DOWN to the bare bones; with three defenders, Cian Coleman, Ally Gilchrist, and Josh Honohan suspended, and Jonas Hakkinen doubtful because of injury, it’s going to be a difficult night for City.

Although they are limited in their choices, I feel City have to continue with the back-three set-up that they have operated since Liam Buckley took interim charge of team selection.

Referee Damien MacGraith shows a red card to Cian Coleman of Cork City. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Referee Damien MacGraith shows a red card to Cian Coleman of Cork City. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The system gives them greater protection. Having three at the back, which becomes five when out of possession, means there is less space for the opposition to exploit than when playing against a back-four.

The question is, who plays in that back three?

If Hakkinen is fit, I imagine he will be paired with Gordon Walker and Kevin Custovic.

If the former Finish U21 international is not available, I would play Matt Healy in the middle of the three and bring Aaron Bolger back into the team in midfield to give extra protection.

People will argue that Healy, perhaps, lacks the physical presence to play in defence, but in a Liam Buckley side, I think the middle defender could get away with not getting involved in physical battles.

That defender could allow his two teammates to battle the centre-forward while he picks up second balls.

Sometimes in that position, it’s more about reading the game and organising those around you to make sure that you aren’t isolated against the striker.

We have also seen in his two games in charge that Buckley wants his players to play out from the back, most notably the emphasis on defenders dropping into the penalty area to receive the ball off of goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran from kick-outs. Healy is certainly a player that would be comfortable getting the ball from his keeper in such a deep position.


It’s difficult to preview this fixture without reflecting on the game against Dundalk.

Of course, decisions seemed to go against them in the final moments, with Honohan and Coleman being sent off, but it cannot go unnoticed either that, for the third time this season, City failed to hold on to a lead in the dying moments of a game.

We saw City surrender late leads against Sligo and Shamrock Rovers earlier in the season, and it must be becoming a bit of a worry for the players. They have thrown away seven points in those three games.

Those experiences will make players anxious if they are leading a match heading into the final moments.

They have to improve their game management. Perhaps stay down a little longer when awarded a free, or whoever is in goal, take a booking for time-wasting.

There is nothing wrong with a little gamesmanship in the final minutes.

This is a game that City have to pick points up in.

They simply can’t rely on UCD failing, City have to start doing their own job.

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