The Leesiders welcome current league leaders Shamrock Rovers to Turner's Cross for Friday’s 7.45pm kick off hoping to bounce back after last week's league loss to Dundalk in Oriel Park.
In between John Caulfield’s men won 4-1 in the EA Sports Cup at home to Cobh Ramblers.
It was fairly even between City and the Hoops last season, with the Leesiders winning 1-0 in Cork and losing 3-0 in Tallaght in the first half of the season. The remaining two encounters finished scoreless but City finished 15 points ahead of Rovers come the end of the season.
City sit sixth in the table behind the Hoops and John Caulfield speaking at his weekly press conference admited that “Rovers have started the season on fire and built up a lead at the top of the table already, although they have played a couple of games more than everyone else.
“For the last couple of years, Stephen [Bradley] has been building for a title challenge. This seems like the year it could happen, with the way they have started.
“They've opened a gap. They’ll be looking at the fact that beating us will keep them well ahead. At the same time, we’ve done a lot of work this season, the lads who have come in have done well.
"Obviously, some of the results haven't gone as well as we would have liked, but here's an opportunity for us to bounce back.”
“In the last couple of years coming down here, and particularly last year, they played cagey and got a draw. This year, they are high-flying and scoring lots of goals. You’d imagine they see this as an opportunity to put more distance between us and them. We need to be at our best and we know that.”
It has been a mixed bag at home in the league for City so far this season with a win, a draw and a loss from their three games at the Cross.
Their most recent home league game though was a victory beating Bohs 2-0 thanks to goals from Conor McCarthy and ex-Gyspy Dan Casey.
“We need a huge passionate crowd and a high energy performance. We gave it in the last home game against Bohemians and we’ll need to do the same again to get a result.”
While the Hoops were eliminated from the EA Sports Cup on penalties by Bray on Monday night, Rovers travel to Turner’s Cross top of the tablea and in good form – they are seeking their sixth consecutive league win.
Last time out in Cork, the Hoops drew 0-0 with Gavin Bazunu saving a City penalty. The young ‘keeper is gone to Manchester City and Alan Mannus is expected to play on Friday having sat out the club’s League Cup exit. His new understudy Leon Pohls kept a clean sheet across 120 minutes in Bray last Monday.
Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley was delighted with the debut run out from Pohls in the EA Sports Cup where the Bradley got the chance to give some of his squad players valuable game time.
“I thought he was excellent,” said Bradley speaking exclusively about Pohls to extratime.ie after the game in Bray. “He has looked good in training but you don’t really know until you put them into games and they have decisions to make.
“He moved around the goal really well. He is athletic. He moves early and gets in position early. I thought his all round game was excellent and his decision making was great - when to come, when to stay, when to go quick or slow it down.
“We have been doing really well in the league and it has been hard to give some of the lads game time but tonight (in the League Cup) was the perfect game opportunity. Dean (Dillon) hasn’t played at all so it was great to get him on the pitch. He missed a lot of pre-season and he is catching up and you could see that tonight as he was a bit sluggish but he will get better.
“Thomas [Oluwa] is one we have been trying to get involved for a while. He has done really well at the under-19 level and we feel he is ready to step up. He showed promising glimpses tonight. Put him in Tallaght in that big open space and he will cause problems.”
Rovers haven’t won away to Cork in six seasons with Bradley noting that “Turner’s Cross is the toughest place in the country to go. Cork will be hurting after they were beaten last week, we know that. They will be right up for it. I believe we are playing really well, creating chances and we aren’t conceding.”
RTÉ’s TV cameras will be at the game for an intriguing encounter. Should the Hoops get a win they would move 15 points clear of City having played two games more than John Caulfield’s men.
“It is two top teams going head to head. Cork are full of men who have been there and done it, they have won things. There won’t be any panic down there. They know how to fix last weeks result and they will be looking to do that on Friday. We have to make sure we are ready for that.”
Referee: Rob Harvey
Rovers’ record in Cork is poor in recent years – their last win away to City came in June 2013 when Ronan Finn and James Chambers scored the goals in a 2-0 win.
City have inflicted six defeats in the interim period in Turner’s Cross since Rovers’ last win in Cork, along with two scoreless draws. The run of wins for City is 3-0 (April 2014), 1-0 (Sep 2014), 2-0 (April 2016), 3-0 (September 2016), 4-1 (May 2017) and 1-0 (March 2018).
The Hoops have kept seven clean sheets from their ten competitive matches this season. They have conceded just three goals and have yet to concede two goals in a game.
Cork City 12/5; Draw 11/5; Shamrock Rovers 11/10.
Injured: Colm Horgan, Daire O’Connor, Matty Gillam
Doubtful: Alan Bennett, Dan Casey, Seán McLoughlin
Injured: Sam Bone
Doubtful: Trevor Clarke, Ethan Boyle, Dan Carr