While Cork City’s new attacking signings Scott Fenwick and Kit Elliott won’t be able to play against Bohemians tomorrow or Waterford next Saturday, manager Neale Fenn is confident that the Rebel Army will be better in front of goal than they were before the SSE Airtricity League was forced to stop.
In the five games played before the pausing of action in March, City scored just once – Alec Byrne’s winner against Finn Harps – with goalless defeats suffered at home to Shelbourne and away to Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk and St Patrick’s Athletic.
They recommence against third-placed Bohs at Turner’s Cross tomorrow evening 5pm and have been boosted by the arrivals of centre-forward Fenwick and Elliott. Fenwick (30) was most recently with Blyth Spartans and has also played for Hartlepool United and York City while teenager Elliott joins on loan from Huddersfield Town.
Each must undergo a period of quarantine, meaning that they won’t be available until the visit of Sligo Rovers on Friday, August 14. Nevertheless, Fenn is happy with his dealings.
“They’re both out-and-out number 9s,” he says.
“Kit’s strength is his hold-up play. He’ll bring that aspect to our front line, which we probably don’t have at the moment, but he’s still young and needs to learn the game.
“Scott is also a number 9, he’s a hardworking player with a good eye for goal and his goalscoring record in the lower leagues in England is second to none.” Centre-forward Conor Davis, signed from Derry City at the start of this season, is ruled out for the remainder of the campaign as he must undergo surgery, while Fenn’s other options are Cian Murphy, Dillon, Dylan McGlade, Beineón O’Brien-Whitmarsh, Reyon Dillon and Cian Bargary.
He’s not worried about the lack of goals in the spring, citing the quality of opposition City played as a factor.
“It’s something we’re addressing,” he said.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record about it but three of those games were away, to Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk and St Pat’s.
“None of them will concede too many goals at home to anybody, so we have to be mindful of that and not panic or try to think that what we’re doing is wrong.
“In the opening game against Shels, we didn’t create a lot of chances but it was the first game of the season, it was tense, a difficult match for it. The game we won, against Finn Harps, we scored a goal and had one disallowed, there was nothing to worry about there.
“We’re certainly not panicking about it.” With a shortened league campaign resulting in teams playing each other just twice and increasing the need for a good start in order to avoid relegation, City chairman Declan Carey was happy to allow Fenn to go into the market, having already re-signed Graham Cummins -expected to play as a centre-back – and Kevin O’Connor.
“We knew we had to back Neale in this transfer window and we’re delighted with the business that he’s done over these past few weeks,” he said.
“The next 13 games are a sprint and we feel that we have the strength to have a strong remainder of the season.” Despite Bohs’ lofty position in the table, Fenn is relishing the opportunity to face them.
“Yeah, they’re a difficult team,” he says, “and the fact that they’ve been back a good bit longer than us is a disadvantage.
“The best way of testing yourself is playing matches against good opposition, you should rise to that occasion. Playing against a strong team in the first game is a plus, I think, and the boys will be up for it and ready to go.”
In today’s fixtures, Shelbourne take on Waterford at Tolka Park at 2pm while Shamrock Rovers entertain Finn Harps at 7pm. The City-Bohs clash is the only one tomorrow but on bank holiday Monday St Patrick’s Athletic take on Derry City.