No wins in seven matches over the past six weeks has intensified pressure on Cork City, meaning anything less than victory Monday night against basement side Finn Harps at Turner's Cross will fuel crisis talk.
Worse still for Cork is the fact that Ollie Horgan’s side arrested a run of 11 straight defeats on Friday by claiming only their third point of the campaign. Indeed, it would have been a first victory of the season only for Sligo Rovers nicking a point with a stoppage-time penalty.
Cork cannot afford any such additional tremors. Firstly, John Caulfield’s side have to achieve what they failed in the last three matches; score a goal. Speaking last night, his assistant went further by imploring the players to open the floodgates on home turf.
“We need to turn it around against Harps, get a win and score a few goals,” insisted John Cotter. “Those are all challenges for us.
Conor McCormack joins Garry Comerford and Dan Casey on the suspended list after being sent-off in Friday’s 2-0 loss at Derry City while Horgan will be without the Ciaran Gallagher, Mark Timlin and Gareth Harkin (injured) and Daniel O’Reilly and Colm Deasy (suspended).
Elsewhere on the latest full set of Monday fixtures, champions Dundalk head to Waterford looking to remain on the coat-tails of leaders Shamrock Rovers.
Friday’s victory over Rovers, their fourth on the spin, cut the gap to four points with a game more to play. Still, Waterford have extracted five points from their last three matches and manager Alan Reynolds says his side will up for the battle.
“We beat Dundalk last season at the RSC, so we’ll have no fear of them,” he notes.
“I knew it would take Dundalk time to gel this season. Now that they’ve got Robbie Benson, Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields back from injury, the side are clicking. Our job is to disrupt that momentum.”
Rovers, according to manager Stephen Bradley, are not in the throes of capitulation despite back-to-back defeats.
Their third game in six days is a Dublin derby against a St Patrick’s Athletic containing many of Bradley’s former players intent on making their mark. The Saints are hunting their fourth win on the trot.
“Results in the past week have made up six points for us on Rovers, so it is vital to we perform at Tallaght,” said their manager Harry Kenny. “Tallaght is a venue we enjoy playing in and hopefully we get another positive result there.”
Third placed Bohemians travel to a Derry City one side spot behind them. Keith Long will once again ring the changes in the Bohs team.
“We had to make eight changes against Waterford on Friday because it is impossible to have games so close together without players suffering long-term injuries,” he reasoned. “It’s very simple; putting players in with niggles will injure them.” UCD host Sligo Rovers at the Belfield Bowl in the final game.
Monday’s Premier Division fixtures: Cork City v Finn Harps; Derry City v Bohemians; Waterford v Dundalk; UCD v Sligo (all 7.45pm), Shamrock Rovers v St Patrick’s Athletic (8pm).