Cork City will look to recover quickly from their first set-back of the season away to arch-rivals Dundalk on Friday. The visit of Shamrock Rovers is as tough a test as they could expect as the fixtures come thick and fast in the SSE Airtricity League.
City look like they will again have to cope without their two most senior players in Mark McNulty and Alan Bennett who are both doubtful with injury. City have been uncharacteristically porous at the back in their opening games and facing into a match against a team who scored 12 in their last two games will be a big test without their long time leaders at the back.
The league leaders and double champions will need to do a lot better against tonight’s visitors if they are to stay on top of the table.
Speaking at a press conference after training on Sunday, City manager John Caulfield acknowledged the shortcomings of Friday’s performance.
“Everyone was very disappointed with the performance last Friday, but overall, this group have been fantastic over the last few years and the new players have been excellent since they came in. When you lose like that, you have to take the criticism and come back stronger. You have to show what you are made of and that is what tomorrow is all about.”
“The quick turnaround is difficult but that’s the way it is. The lads feel themselves that they didn’t do enough on Friday and there were a lot of below-par performances, so they are looking forward to tomorrow’s game and getting back out there. Hopefully, tomorrow night, we will see a totally different performance.”
Shamrock Rovers travel to Turner’s Cross in high spirits with their recent form finally showing what their squad is capable of. After opening day defeat to nemeses Bohemians, Rovers fans couldn’t have imagined such a turnaround in one month and they finally look the part of title contenders. 12 goals in two games have captured the headlines including four from Graham Burke but Rovers seem to have improved all over the pitch since the opening night, something which has clearly delighted Rovers boss Stephen Bradley.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s game to shamrockrovers.ie, the Hoops boss waxed lyrical about recent performances.
“When we play to our levels all over the pitch, defensively and attacking we’re a match for anyone, like we have been for the last two weeks, in terms of being ruthless in and around the box and being calm. You saw for some of the goals, for Ronan’s pass to Graham Burke, he could have shot. There were good decisions made and we took our time around the box and finished them off. So that was pleasing to see.”
Under Bradley Rovers have been regularly accused of ill-discipline and poor decision making, something that was more than evident in this fixture last year which Rovers lost 4-1 after being a goal up and having a man sent-off.
“Last year at Turner’s Cross we could have gone 2-0 up but we get a man sent off and concede within five minutes. So, the score-line suggested it was an easy night’s work for them but when you actually look at the game we did well for large parts of it until the sending off. We’re going to need to be disciplined again tomorrow like we have been this year and keep eleven players on the pitch. It’s about us sticking to our game plan.”
Referee: Robert Harvey
The sides met 4 times in all competitions last season with the results even at 2 apiece.
A Sean Maguire inspired Cork City won the first two fixtures of the season in the league including 4-1 at home.
However, Rovers took the bragging rights in the League Cup Semi Final with a last minute extra time goal from James Doona as well as winning their final league encounter 3-1 in Tallaght.
Cork City 8/11; Draw 5/2; Shamrock Rovers 7/2.
Cork City 2 – 1 Shamrock Rovers
Injured: Johnny Dunleavy.
Doubtful: Mark McNulty, Alan Bennett.
Doubtful: Ethan Boyle, Greg Bolger.