Monday night fixtures are not exactly popular with Leeside football supporters. Nevertheless, it’s likely that close on 3,000 diehards will be in Turner’s Cross on Monday for the visit of the Rebel Army's bogey side, Sligo Rovers.
Cork City failed to beat the Bit O’ Red in the league last season. The sides played out two goalless draws at the Showgrounds while a 2-1 Sligo win at Turner’s Cross last August scuppered City’s 15-game unbeaten run and severely dented their title aspirations.
Much debate has raged in the southern capital about the Cork City central defensive set-up. Three successive league victories would suggest that John Caulfield’s men are coping well with the departure of last season’s lynchpin Kenny Browne.
Mark McNulty recorded two more clean sheets against Finn Harps and Drogheda, although Stephen Elliott’s strike on Friday saw City concede for the first time this term.
Cork City hit four (for the second successive match) at the other end to see off Drogheda at United Park. There were telling contributions from the bench by the likes of Achille Campion and Connor Ellis.
Speaking to the media ahead of the Sligo encounter, City boss John Caulfield said he was pleased with how his side had done so far this season.
“You need fellas chomping at the bit,” he told the club's website. “If you lose a fella through suspension or injury or loss of form, you need fellas on the sideline waiting to come in and keep the quality up.”
“We probably have more attacking options this season and we are playing that way because we feel that teams will come down and sit back, so we need to open them up. We do a lot of work on forward play, but the main thing is that we have a lot of guys who can get goals, which does help.”
“It has been a good start for us. The supporters have only seen us at home once in the league and, while a Monday night isn’t ideal for people, we have had a good start and we are hoping that the fans will come out and support us again.
“I think this team is special and I think it is important that the fans get behind them right from the start, which I think they have done already, because we will need that if we are to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.”
“Sligo have a lot of pace and energy because they have a lot of youth in their team. They are very dangerous on the counter, so they will be a threat but we are working on our own ways of breaking them down and creating chances.
“It is another three points on offer and we are at home, so it really is about us treating tomorrow as another massive match and we need to be at it from the start.”
Sligo Rovers will make the trip to Cork on the back of their most encouraging performance of the season so far.
After two heavy defeats, 1-5 away against Limerick and at 0-4 home to champions Dundalk, Sligo drew 1-1 with St. Patrick’s Athletic at the Showgrounds last week to pick-up their first point of the campaign. Kieran Sadlier’s expert free-kick gave the Bit O’Red a first half lead only for Michael Barker to volley an equaliser after the break.
Sligo will hope to take inspiration from their win in Cork last season where. Sadlier and veteran colleague Rafaele Cretaro gave Rovers a 2-0 half time lead on that occasion and Sligo held on for the win, despite a late Seán Maguire penalty.
Manager Dave Robertson said: "It's a quick turnaround from Friday but this is something we looked at it in pre-season with a view to be ready for this type of situation. We all know Turner's Cross is a tough place to go.
“Last season we showed resilience and togetherness in the games we played against Cork, in particular the game down there. You have to assert yourself on the game and while there will be periods where they could be an onslaught, you have to pull together and then play your own game. That's what we'll have to do on Monday.
"It was very much a game of two halves on Friday against St Pats. We did well in the first half and Pats had more of the ball in the second and got their goal.
“It wasn't so much of a relief to get our first point but disappointment at not seeing out the performance from the first half. It's something we need to do on Monday, to find that consistency and if we do that I think we can come away with a result."
Kenyan striker Jonah Ayunga will be available for selection at Turner’s Cross after missing the Pats game through suspension.
Referee: Sean Grant.
Cork City and Sligo Rovers have played each other 61 times in the League of Ireland. City have won 32 of those games, Sligo 14 and there have been 15 draws. At Turner’s Cross, City have won 16 games, Sligo six, and there have been seven draws.
The two meetings of Sligo Rovers and Cork City at The Showgrounds last season ended in 0-0 draws. The last scoreless draw between the sides at Turner’s Cross was on 5 October 2012.
Cork City’s last home league victory over Sligo Rovers was a 3-2 success in May 2015. A Karl Sheppard brace had the Leesiders 2-0 ahead before they were pegged back to 2-2. Mark O’Sullivan (now with Waterford) netted a late winner.
Cork City: last five league games WLWWW
Sligo Rovers: last five league games LWLLD
Cork City 1/4; Draw 9/2; Sligo Rovers 8/1.
Cork City 2 - 0 Sligo Rovers
Injured: John Kavanagh.
Doubtful: Seán Maguire, Stephen Dooley, Jimmy Keohane, Alan Bennett.
Doubtful: Regan Donelon, Micheal Schlingermann.
John Manning began writing for Extratime.ie this year after retiring from the insurance industry. He has been a regular attendee at League of Ireland football matches since the 1970s. He has particularly supported Cork Hibs, Cork Celtic, Cork United, Cork City but has attended many other matches also.
He was formerly Webmaster of the Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland website (www.ppui.ie) to which he still contributes. He is currently Webmaster of the International Pitch and Putt Association website (www.fippa.org).
John broadcast Pitch and Putt on the airwaves from 1994 to 2005 – on CKR, KFM, KCLR FM, Midlands Radio 3, Radio Kerry and Cork 103 FM.
John held many administrative posts within the sport of Pitch and Putt
· Treasurer Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland 1992-93
· Public Relations Officer Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland 1994 – 2005
· General Secretary European Pitch and Putt Association 2000 - 2010
John Manning was the Editor of ‘Backspin’ – official monthly magazine of the Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland – between 1989 and 2005. He still currently contributes to ‘Backspin’.
He is a fervent supporter of the Republic of Ireland football team – home and sometimes away.
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