Second from bottom Cobh Ramblers lock horns with league leaders Shelbourne in a crucial clash in the SSE Airtricity First Division at St. Colman’s Park on Friday evening (kick-off 7.30pm).
The Rams will be aiming to turn their poor early season form around with a victory over an in-form Shels side. The Cobh faithful are badly in need of an injection of belief that their side can improve their fortunes and make a push up the table.
Cobh had a bit of a topsy turvy few days last weekend when they had a double header home and away against Limerick. The Super Blues came out on top in the league fixture 3-1 at the Market’s Field last Friday night to register their first league win of the season.
Kieran Hanlon and Conor Ellis put Limerick 2-0 in front after half an hour but Cobh got right back into the game three minutes later thanks to top scorer Jaze Kabia. However, their joy was short lived as Limerick restored their two goal advantage when Hanlon notched his second of the game after 39 minutes. Despite a gallant effort The Rams were unable to claw back the deficit in the second half.
Cobh exacted revenge on their Munster rivals the following Monday evening when they dumped The Super Blues out of the EA Sports Cup in the First Round 3-1 at St. Colman’s Park. Denzil Fernandes gave the home side an early lead after just 6 minutes and the game remained in the balance until Brian Murphy netted the crucial second on 75 minutes.
Sean McSweeney gave Limerick hope making it 2-1 with 5 minutes remaining but the man of the moment Jaze Kabia popped up to seal the win 2 minutes later and book The Rams safe passage into the next round where they have rewarded with a plum tie away to rivals Cork City at Turner’s Cross.
The disappointing result against Limerick last Friday night condemned The Rams to their third defeat in four league matches so far this season. Cobh began their league campaign with back to back defeats to Drogheda United (4-0) at United Park and Athlone Town (0-1) at St. Colman’s Park with their solitary win being the 6-1 thrashing of Wexford at home the following week.
Shels will be striving to maintain their recent purple patch of league form when they make the long journey to the Rebel County by taking the scalp of Cobh back with them to Drumcondra.
Shelbourne reached the summit of the SSE Airtricity First Division after cruising to an emphatic 3-0 win over bottom of the table Wexford at Tolka Park last Friday night. It was a tight affair in the first half with both sides cancelling each other out to go in level at 0-0.
Shels upped the ante after the break and took the lead just 5 minutes in with a goal from Darragh Noone and took complete command 10 minutes later when Ryan Brennan made it 2-0 and Daniel Byrne put the final nail in Wexford’s coffin with Shels third goal with 7 minutes left on the clock.
This was a much needed win for Shelbourne after they were left smarting from a 4-1 hammering at the hands of their bitter rivals Bohs at Tolka Park in the 4th Round of the Leinster Senior Cup four days earlier. Shels had a much changed side with a lot of youngsters but produced some good individual displays despite the scoreline.
Shels boss Ian Morris is understandably pleased with his side’s recent displays and is hopeful of further reason to be cheerful with the return of more players who have been side-lined telling www.shelbournefc.ie, “We’re starting to get bodies back. Bar Alex O’Hanlon and Shane Farrell, everyone else is back getting us towards a full squad. The competiveness and tempo steps up straight away in training.”
Morris is also warning of complacency and is aware of the challenge posed by Cobh.
“We might need to change the approach; it’s a tough place to go. We will have to be bang up for it and raise our game. They’re a lively team, they beat Wexford at home 6-1 so they can score goals. It’ll be a tough test.”
The Shels boss also believes that conditions could play a vital role in how the result pans out.
“We will have to prepare for a narrow tight pitch and depending on the weather the pitch could be bobbly so we will have to prepare for the conditions.”
The Drumcondra side have managed three wins from their four league matches so far this season which has seen them move to the top of the table on goal difference over Bray Wanderers. Shels began with a 3-2 win over Galway United in Terryland Park but followed that up with a 3-2 home defeat by Cabinteely before beating Athlone Town 2-0 at the City Calling Stadium.
Shelbourne boss Morris has a near fully fit squad from which to choose from but will be without the services of Shane Farrell who is still side-lined while Alex O’Hanlon will face a late fitness test. Shels have no suspensions for this week.
Referee: Robert Hennessy
Cobh Ramblers and Shelbourne met on three occasions in the SSE Airtricity First Division last season with Shels dominating the fixture winning all three games 1-0 at Tolka Park, 3-0 at St. Colman’s Park and 3-1 in their final encounter at Tolka.
The Rams and Shels have met each other 23 times in all competitions since 2007 with Shelbourne having a marginally better head to head record with 8 wins to Cobh’s 7 with 8 draws.
Cobh Ramblers scored 21 goals in their 23 matches averaging 0.9 per game while Shelbourne scored 29 goals in their 23 matches averaging 1.26 goals per game.
Cobh Ramblers are currently in 9th place in the SSE Airtricity First Division on 3 points from their 4 matches with 1 win and 3 defeats.
Shelbourne are currently in 1st place in the SSE Airtricity First Division on 9 points from their 4 matches with 3 wins and one defeat.
Cobh Ramblers 11/4 Draw 5/2 Shelbourne 4/5
Cobh Ramblers 1-2 Shelbourne
Injured: Shane Farrell
Doubtful: Alex O’Hanlon