This post will be concentrating on the first few games of 2020 – League action v Longford, Limerick and Wexford, and a Munster Senior Cup QF versus Ballinhassig.
Up until now I’ve been posting the key Highlights of each league match with that match. From now I’ll be doing a monthly key highlight package of all competitive fixtures, plus goals from any friendlies we have (Our first free weekend is at the end of May).
14th February 2020
Anyway, to our first league match – We entertain a Longford side that are second favourites for title after Shelbourne (We’re 8th, Cabinteely & Athlone below us), have a very good squad as per our scouts, and have done well in the transfre market, gaining a couple of ex-Premier division players on Free’s.
We start the season with a 4-1-2-3 Wing Play, with a certain amount of pressing, attempting to stay relatively tight whilst still having some attacking endeavour. I’ve been loving how Taylor & Nolan have been linking up on the left, with Turner arriving back post so I hope to see a continuation of this. McCormack gets the nod up to as our best Pressing Forward/Target Man, though Cian Leonard will most probably be first choice when he is fit, as an AF. Longford go with a similar tactic – 4-2-3-1, their midfield diamond tipped the other way, towards the AM, which is something we can do easily if necessary.
FT Cobh Ramblers 2 (Nolan 63, McCormack 81) Longford 1 (Dobbs 18) Att 328 (50 Away)
An OK start, chances for both teams in a rainy Cobh. Quite end-to-end. But we were undone with a big lump forward, Aaron Dobbs scoring in the 18th minute. We definitely were having our share of the attacking play though. Moved Porter up to AM/AP (A). 1-0 Longford at HT, we were definitely still in this game, we just need to be clinical when the chances come.
Byrne on for Ekanem, who was on a Yellow. Longford looked dangerous at the start of the half. Porter has had some good chances and because of not hitting the tartget is on a 6.3 – moved him back to CM as an AP from AM. We then had a goal disallowed for offside from a corner, but straight away Steven Nolan got a yard and tapped home a Fleming Cross. 1-1, we’ve been worth it, and are looking the stronger. 63 minutes gone. Fleming is looking shattered – Lynch coming on. Porter on a 6.2, Mulgannon coming on, Hurley goes to a BBM, Nolan go inverted to try support McCormack for the last 10. And Boom!!!! – 81st minute, Turner does really well to get a cross off, it arrives at McCormack’s feet just inside the area and he rockets a shot into the top right of the Longford goal, the Keeper literally unmoved. 2-1 Cobh, an outstanding turnaround. I really like how Nolan has gotten involved since going inverted. And just as I type that he’s injured in a tackle…. In the immortal words of Loki Doki “He’s ripped his cock off” – All subs done as well so 10 men for the last few minutes. Kavanagh is also injured in the challenge, a potential lower leg, so looks like a bad one. Back to Balanced, Byrne moves back to the Ron Burgundy – lets try and see this out. 6 minutes of Fergie Time. Longford were all over us, but a worldie of a save from Adam Mylod, and an Aaron Dobbs offside goal in the last minute saw us over the line. 2-1 Cobh, a superb win. lets hope Nolan isn’t out for too long…
Stats-wise we were good value for the win – 3 clear-cut chances to Longford’s 0 in a even match. I’ll take that for Match-Day 1!!
Shelbourne start strongly after their end-of-season capitulation dismantling Wexford 6-1. Limerick, next up for us put 3 past favourites-for bottom Athlone. UCD get their first win after relegation at Cabinteely and Bray & Drogheda play out a 0-0, Bray playing with 10 men for the last 25 minutes.
Bugger – Steve Nolan is out for a month-plus.
NEW SIGNING – Owen Wall
- 20 yo
- 5ft 9in
- Started his career at Waterford, had time at Wexford (Seems to be without a club IRL)
- Natural Inside Forward/Inverted Winger & can play up top as a Poacher/AF
Owen Wall comes in on a free transfer, £35/game, cover for that left wing with Steven Nolan out. Solid and unremarkable, but is a natural IF/IW 🙂 he goes straight in v Limerick on the left.
21st February 2020
So to our 73 mile journey north to Markets Field to face a tricky Limerick side. IRL the didn’t receive a licence to compete in the First Division in 2020 due to debt problems. Interestingly we are the only game today (i think there are Leinster Senior Cup games going on, and Limerick and Cobh are the only Munster boys).
The season’s preview has them finishing in 5th, the scout report has them being fairly comfortably better than us man-for-man but not to the extent Longford are, so again this could be a very interesting game.
I’m pulling Porter back into Centre Mid to be a CM(A) – Just go and play lad!! – plus this creates another bank of players to be a nuisance. New boy Wall straight in for the injured Nolan, Byrne in for Ekanem, who started at DM in the last match. Limerick go 4-4-2 – 2 different strikers from last season for them but they come off of a 3-0 win v Athlone. Lets go.
FT Limerick F.C. 1 (Scully 32) Cobh Ramblers 1 (McCormack 12) Att 1,320 (42 Away)
Slide tackles for days today!! Limerick looked very useful but again we had a decent whack of the ball. And then possibly the best counter I’ve seen on FM20 – most of the boys involved, finally McCormack tapping in after WB Kev Taylor’s slotted pass. 1-0 Cobh in the 12th minute. Limerick pulled it back in the 32nd minute – a flicked free-kick finished with a scissor-kick at the back post by Matthew Scully – Looking suspiciously offside. We certainly were getting chances, again composure and the oppo Keeper getting the better of us. Limerick were looking so dangerous at set pieces though. A tough one to call. 1-1 at HT, 2-0 Cobh by Clear-Cut chances….
45:27 – Should have been 2-1 Cobh, McCormack saved by McGuinness. Mihoubi on for Wall just before 60 – 4-4-1-1 with Porter moving up to link Midfield & McCormack. Leonard on for McCormack for a 20-minute super-subbage as an AF. Back to Balanced. Mylod was keeping us in it a bit, a few lovely saves. And then, 78th minute, a lovely ball over the top, Leonard ran onto it – was it his time? No, 1-on-1’s come back to haunt us yet again – The public beta ME changes need to go live 🙂 🙂 🙂 Chances chances chances for the Cobh boys, yet i feel the sucker punch coming…. Mulgannon on for an under-performing Eoin Porter yet again, worrying. 6 minutes of normal time left. Then 5 minutes of injury time. And Leonard gets another chance (he’s looking a real handful running off the last man) – saved yet again!!!! Feel we should have had 2 players sent off for last-man professional fouls in the last 10 minutes – Fleming gets a yellow, Byrne not even a talking to – Limerick are so fast on the break. Limerick have had some gilt-edged chances as well, Conor Murphy tamely shooting straight into Mylod’s arms in the last minute. Then another Leonard run leads to McCarthy getting a second yellow. 30 seconds left!! But the free kick was wasted, and it finished 1-1. As per last season Limerick as very competitive side, and maybe we are punching above our weight??
Stats – 5 Clear Cut Chances for Cobh!!!!! Only 2 for Limerick. Otherwise pretty level. A fair enough result but I feel we had it in us to win by the odd goal.
4 from 2 – a superb start! If we finish within a sniff of the playoffs this year it would be amazing.
Wexford are next up in the league, but not before a cup match v Ballinhassig, where I can rotate and have a look at a very attacking tactic. Also the cup game is on the Tuesday, the next league game v Wexford on the Friday so rotation is needed anyway.
I’ve warned Eoin Porter about his performances – He’s done nothing in 2 games. Hoping a nice attacking match in the cup will get his juices flowing, so to speak. I’m hoping this isn’t due to his injury on the last day of last season.
Our U19’s drew 2-2 with Everton (Cork) – 17 yo AMR Paul Caulfield with the brace.
We may have a little issue with Cian Leonard and Injury Susceptibility – 2nd Injury in as many months, 5 weeks with Back Strain is not good, especially as he showed such great intent when he came on v Limerick. Daire Doherty will be stepping up.
There was another league match on the Monday (Day before our cup game) – Look at the state of this:
Makes our draw with them look pretty decent!!
25th February 2020
So to our (pretty meaningless but trophies are trophies) Munster Senior Cup QF away at Ballinhassig (https://ballinhassigafc.wordpress.com/). The journey is only 24 miles, and once you get out of Cork its down some lovely country roads (Think grass up the middle).
A bit of cross-pollination from my FM19 Journeyman, where this formation put 11 past Tweedmouth in a friendly – I want to see how/if it works in FM20 against a similar strength team (No real players, that sort of thing). We’re missing Cian Leonard unfortunately, and have do a decent rotation, though Eoin Porter will play until his form improves 🙂 🙂 Ballinhassig go with the Eurofighter 4-2-3-1 Narrow.
FT Ballinhassig 0 Cobh Ramblers 2 (McCormack 9, Byrne 73) Att 53 (16 Away)
A pretty scattergun start in front of 53 paying attendees, but dominant with respect to field position, and Eoin McCormack opened the scoring in the 9th minute, volleying home a Lynch cross from 12 yards. Harmon on for Turner early on after a coming together left him hurt – hoping not too badly. Dominant and disappointing. 1-0 at HT, 3 shots on target from 14….
And another knock – Alan Murphy at left back…. Kevin Taylor on. They have two ‘red’ injuries, us two ‘amber’. Mulgannon on for McCormack, going 3 in midfield. Pretty awful altogether, but Byrne tapped in after a header down from a corner in the 73rd minute to make it 2-0 and take the stress (maybe too strong a word) out of the last quarter of the game. 2-0 it finished, not a classic. Eoin Porter was floating around the 6.3 in the second half but somehow finished with a 6.7 ( 1 key pass late on)….. Lynch got man of the match with 8 Key Passes & 2 Chances created!!
The two Injuries – Alan Murphy – 2/3 days (Bruised Ankle). Ian Turner – Exactly the same. Not too bad, might keep them out of the Wexford game.
We made a cool £3,380 for winning the QF – every little helps. Two of the other QF’s are this Friday (28th Feb), but the 4th (Cobh Wanderers v Cork) isn’t until late March, so we can forget about this little diversion for a while (SF at the end of April)
28th February 2020
We entertain Wexford this evening in our 3rd league game and their 2nd (They lost 6-1 to Shelbourne) so we are looking to continue our good form. Wexford finished 9th last season, 10 points behind us and are 7th (1 place ahead of us) favourites for the league this season, 1 spot ahead of us. The scout report shows they have a slightly stronger squad than we do, be only slightly, so this should be a good game.
With Owen Wall lacking a bit of fitness I’m giving Lyamine Mihoubi another game, and we go to a 4-4-1-1, Porter as a Support AP rather than Attack to give him free range to pick some key passes out, which he was amazing at at the tail end of last season. Otherwise it is much of a muchness. Wexford love themselves a 4-4-2.
I had a look at the player-level xG with regards to their forward Danny Furlong as he always stands out in all the xG data gathering I do. He comes in at 43rd best in the league out of approx 110 players who have scored or have had 5 shots or more (Scored 5, xG 4.55, so 0.55 better than expected). Note he has only been involved in 7 games for this data. Lyamine Mihoubi has been involved in 5 and is currently 10th in the league (xG of 1.83 over expected) so I hope to see this continue.
FT Cobh Ramblers 0 Wexford 0 Att 306 (22 Away)
Wexford started in a fetching Salmon kit and were on the front foot in the opening exchanges. Cobh pulled themselves into the game more and more though, again lacking precision with the final ball. 0-0 at HT, completely a 50-50 game so far.
Eoin Porter pulled back to centre-mid as a BBM – I’m at a loss as to his form at the moment. Mulgannon for Byrne (6.2). Wall on for Mihoubi, change to a 4-3-3. SO many headers balooning over today. Last 20 – Porter off (6.3!! I’ve had enough, I’ve resorted to individually telling him off now) – Daire Doherty on, 4-2-4!!!! Too attacking? Chances came and went – 0-0 it finished, a game we could have won, but on reflection a draw was definitely the fairest outcome. Just getting the Key Highlights out for the summary video – First highlight was in the 66th minute 🙂 🙂 🙂 Maybe says it all.
A big win for Bray over Shelbourne, Longford playing out a draw v U.C.D and Drogheda sneaking a win at the death v Athlone – It could be a much tighter league than scouting reports would lead you to believe.
So, the Eoin Porter problem. Lets have a look at some heat-maps – I’m thinking playing the 2 BWM with him is almost getting in his way???
Nope – Its pretty simple when you look at it. This is from the Wexford game – Playing an extremely wide wing-play isn’t gelling well for the very centre-most player in a midfield 3 – the ball just isn’t in the right places for Eoin to get involved. I will try allowing him to roam – this should allow him to come a bit closer to where the ball actually is on average. I might even drop the Exploit the Flanks for a more overall game as we (should be) so strong in midfield.
So all the games are done for February – The key highlights from all the games are in a nice little video embedded below.
Rounding off the month Cobh U19 lost 2-1 to Castlebar Celtic on the leap-day, Paul Caulfield with another goal from AMR.
So, 5 points from 9 in the league and a cup win – a good first part-month of the 2020 season.
In the next post will be the (rather simple) matter of March 2020. Four league games; first 2 away to teams expected to finish 4th and 1st, then home to the team expected to finish 6th (But by far top of the xG charts currently) and home to the team expected to finish bottom. And off course stats, stats and more stats 🙂 See you then.