John Caulfield’s Cork City host Johnny McDonnell’s Drogheda United on Monday night in a game brought forward by two months due to the Leesiders’ involvement in the Europa League this season.
It looked as though it would be three successive games without a win for Caulfield’s side on Friday, until Mark O’Sullivan struck late on to give Cork a 3-2 victory over Sligo Rovers. That result means Cork come into this game in second place, with the chance to close the gap to Dundalk at the top to four points with a win over the Louth side.
Cork will be hoping to continue their impressive home form this season, which has seen them win five of the six league games at Turners Cross to date, losing to leaders Dundalk in the other.
The Leesiders have scored 21 goals in their first 12 games this season, with 11 different players on the scoresheet so far. 16 of those 21 goals have come at home, another stat that Caulfield will be hoping his side can increase on Monday night.
In team news, Caulfield will have to plan without Ross Gaynor, who again misses out due to a knock that also kept him out of the victory over Sligo on Friday. Alan Bennett and long-term absentee John Dunleavy also miss out through injury.
Speaking to www.corkcityfc.ie ahead of the game, Caulfield said he expects the Boynesiders to try hit his side on counter.
“We played Drogheda a few weeks ago and we beat them 2-1 in what was a very tight game. I expect them to come down and sit in and try to play on the counter, so we need to be patient.”
“I think we need to be bright and lively and keep the ball moving quickly, keep passing and moving; some of our play on Friday night was fantastic.”
As for Drogheda, they travel to Cork off the back of a 4-2 victory over Bray Wanderers, a result that handed them their first win since a 3-2 victory over Sligo Rovers in the second game of the season.
That result moved Johnny McDonnell’s side up to 9th in the league, and a positive result against Cork could see the Louth side move further up the table.
The Boynesiders have picked up just four points on the road so far this season, courtesy of a 1-0 victory against Bray on the opening day of the season and a 2-2 draw against St. Pats three weeks ago, a result that McDonnell would surely be happy to see his side replicate.
Drogheda will again have to do without defender Neil Yadolahi, who is nearing a return following a grade two quad tear picked up against Limerick back in March. The young Dubliner, who has previously played for Burnley and most recently, Armenian side FC Banants is travelling to England for a second time since picking up the injury, to the St. George’s Park facility in Burton for another week of treatment. Stephen Maher also misses out through suspension, after picking up five yellow cards this season. In more positive news for the Boynesiders, midfielder Sean Thornton is back available following suspension.
Speaking to www.droghedaunited.ie, boss Johnny McDonnell says his side will fancy their chances,
“It’s not ideal playing three times in a week again but we want to go there and put in a real performance. It’s a difficult place to go but we are coming off the back of a victory so we’ll fancy our chances. To come away with a result would be fantastic.”
Pundit Arena Prediction:
Cork City 2-1 Drogheda United.
Injured: John Dunleavy, Alan Bennett, Ross Gaynor.
Injured: Neil Yadolahi.
Suspended: Stephen Maher.
Last Two Meetings:
League, 17th April 2015: Drogheda United 1-2 Cork City.
League, 3rd October 2014: Cork City 2-1 Drogheda United.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Assistants: Ken Hennessy & Trevor Cotter.
Fourth Official: Graham Kelly.
Cork City 3/10; Draw 4/1; Drogheda United 19/2.
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena.