Welcome back to another instalment in my FM20 Career with a Cobh Ramblers side that are belying expectations left, right and centre.
We’ve not lost since 22nd May, but this month is our toughest yet, 3 games in 6 days, 2 league games against very good First Division teams plus a cup Quarter Final against a team sitting 2nd in the Premier Division…
Before we get to our first game of the trifecta we have the usual stats to look at for August.
Only 3 games in the month has led to Mylod losing a few attribute points. ben O’Riordan is coming on though.
Interesting stats for August – Hurley & Porter playing really nicely together in Centre Mid, hence really high pass completion. Ian Turner yet again firing the crosses over. Carrick Hill is bedding in, though his header completion is low for a 6ft 4in lad – might be all the attacking headers at set pieces, might need to swap him for Evan Murphy on them.He & Murphy are intercepting brilliantly. Attacking-wise we continue to dribble like Brazilians, all the wide-guys over 2 attempts per game. Lots of our shots were on target in August, and we scored 7 goals. Turner continues to rack up the assists with another 4. Lastly a few of the guys have the occasional rick in them – Mihoubi will be playing a back seat after good game time this season, Hurley is a BWM so gets in there and Lewis is still bedding in.
As all the xG stats are based on all games that have occurred in the dataset we are now 5.5 goals behind over our 30 games – even though we scored 4 in our league game its a moving average so we’ve gotten slightly worse. Bray are still out in front.
Adam Mylod still in 4th, +3.1 goals to the good. Paul White has done well since his inclusion into the Longford team in place of Lee Steacy.
Two guys in the top 10, 2 in the bottom. Hurley & Turner have to score in the final 6 league games, surely?? Eoin & Ben’s xG adds to +7 for the team 🙂 One of the main reasons we are doing so well (in comparison to what we should be doing).
A solid B from the Board – C+ for matches that involve beating 1st and 4th in the Premier division FFS!!!! 4-4 v Wexford is apparently an F……..
Dynamics are excellent – Cohesion is Good, and I don’t think it will get much higher being Part-Timers.
I had a look at all the guts we had left (Youth & First teams) with Contracts running out at the end of the season. The following have extended for a year.
- Ian Quinn (18yo STC, 1* CA, 4/5* PA) – £30/appearence
- Ryan Keogh (17yo MC, 2* CA, 4/5* PA) – £20/wk
- Mark Burke (18yo GK, 2* CA, 3.5/4.5* PA) – £25/wk
- Steven Nolan – £65/wk
7th September 2020 – Drogheda Utd (A) – First Division
We make the long journey north to Co. Louth to meet a Drogheda side sitting astride the Division, 6 points clear with a game in hand on Shelbourne in 3rd, same games as Limerick in Second. if they win tonight and Limerick don’t they’ll be at least 7 points clear with 5 games left. I don’t have any expectations apart from this will be a bloody tough game.
Thornton in for Hurley so I can go BBM/DLP in Centre Mid. Nolan starts again at ML. Interestingly Colin McGarvey is away on International duty with N.Ireland U19 – He’s been one of their stars this year. I took a look at the opposition reports, don’t often do so but thought it might be interesting:
Expected weakness on their right = Focus play down the left. They are going with a 4-4-1-1, so we match up pretty much man-for-man.
FT Drogheda Utd 2 (Lyons pen 5, Hanratty 79) Cobh Ramblers 0 Att 815 (16 Away)
No expectations tonight, and within 5 minutes Drogheda get another one of these retarded penalties, apparently falling over 6ft away from a defender is enough to get one (I know the animations are lacking but this is just getting stupid). Chris Lyons steps up and scores. 1-0 Drogheda. The boys came back well, but Drogheda keeper is top of the xG ratings for a reason, it will be tough to get past him tonight. 1-0 at HT, but it was definitely Drogheda’s half. How to change it? Difficult against good players who haven’t lost in league play this season.
Taylor on for Lewis at HT, who was definitely out of sorts. And a few tweaks but nothing major. Really quiet, Hurley on for Thornton just before 65 minutes. Mihoubi on for the last 15. We started to press quite well but Drogheda were defending well, and out of nowhere Hanratty scores from 25 yards…. 2-0 Drogheda. And that’s how it finished, a stupid penalty and a wonder-goal away from the league leaders.
Drogheda have secured at least a playoff spot with 5 games left, and are now 8 points clear and looking odds-on to go up as champions, especially with Limerick dropping more points at home to Longford.
Our Next game with Bray is in 3 days, no training in between so all the players are resting.
In-between games our U19’s beat Wexford U19’s 2-1, Ben Hanrahan & Charlie Lyons with the goals.
10th September 2020 – Bray Wanderers (H) – First Division
We entertain Bray this Thursday evening, a team we have issues with (W1 D1 L3) this save. That said their squad isn’t much stronger than ours if at all, and the bookies have us favourites…
Mihoubi in for Nolan, Taylor for Lewis (Back to normal fullbacks).Hurley starts as a BWM and there have been a few more tweaks tactically. Bray start with a 4-3-3 Narrow – Going wide as we can.
FT Cobh Ramblers x (McCormack 23, 78 Bray Wanderers x Att 407 (75 Away)
It’s a lovely autumn evening at St. Colman’s Park, and it was a pretty even start to proceedings. Cobh started to make inroads and the breakthrough came in the 23rd minute. A Bray corner was cleared well, Turner hitting Mihoubi, who was out on the right. He Controlled it and played it forward to Eoin McCormack in acres of space. He ran on and scored past Sava from 15 yards. 1-0 Cobh. Hurley twisted his knee in a challenge, but his condition started going back up quickly so he should make it to half time. And it finished 1-0. Very even so far. Hurley is back up to 80%, so I’ll keep him on for another 15 or so.
A good attacking start to the half by Cobh. Hurley off for Thornton on 60. Lewis for Fleming on 70. On 75 McCormack had a goal disallowed for offside, where he definitely wasn’t but it could be argued others interfered with the Keeper. In the 78th minute Turner was scythed down by Derek Daly and got away with a telling off. But Turner took the free kick quickly, finding Eoin McCormack, who scored his 19th of the season from the second bite of the cherry after a good initial save from Sava. 2-0 Cobh, 12 minutes of normal time left. Nolan on for Mihoubi for the last 10. We keep on pushing as gaps start opening up. Time ticked away and it finished 2-0 Cobh. In the end a dominant win. A superb result before the big cup game on Sunday.
Drogheda keep their run going win at Cabinteely after going 1-0 down early, and are now 9 points clear with 4 games left after Limerick capitulate, losing 3-0 to U.C.D., playing with 10 men from the 22nd to 71st minute, and 9 men from then on. Shelbourne go into 2nd with a 4-2 win at Athlone Town. An entertaining evening. 4 games to overhaul Bray; if you’d offered me 5th at the start of the season I would have taken that every day. And we’ve passed last years points total of 29 with 4 games left.
David Hurley is out for 6-9 days with a twisted knee – he should be back for the Athlone league game on the 25th but I won’t rush him.
Lastly before the big one our U19’s lost 3-1 to Waterford U19’s, Shane O’Flynn with the goal.
Sunday 13th September 2020 – Cork City (A) – FAI Cup Quarter Final
We’ve beaten 1st and 4th from the Premier Division, time to beat 2nd!
Cork City (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cork_City_F.C.) have a starred history, winning the Premier Division 3 times and the FAI Cup 4. They have been in the premier Division since 2012, after a 2-year dip into the First, but are very much a top-tier team by default.
Cork still haven’t lost since their 2-1 defeat to Dundalk on 5th June, and the beat Dundee Utd of the Scottish Championship 3-2 last time out in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup 3rd Round, a creditable result showing where they sit as a team. As such its going to be a mighty struggle.
The Cork City Manager was trying the old mind games before the presser 🙂
I was very complimentary of Neale and talked up the spectacle in the Press Conference, and this was the result:
🙂 Never a bad idea to be polite, but never be a push-over.
A few issues – We know about Hurley, Thornton comes in. Evan Murphy gets a day off following his 8th yellow card, meaning his 2nd suspension of the season. Riordan drops back and Ekanem comes in. Condition is also a small issue, this being our 3rd game in 6 days. Nolan starts on the left. Leiws starts in place of Fleming, who is on a poor run but wil definitely feature at some point. Lets all enjoy the occasion 🙂 🙂 🙂 Cork City go with a 4-4-1-1 and are pretty much starting with their first team, apart from striker Aaron Drinan, on loan from Ipswich Town…………..
FT Cork City 0 Cobh Ramblers 0 Att 4,750 (213 Away)
Cork are in camouflage green, we in our away sky-blue this Sunday afternoon for today’s Derby. A quite start, but we had a good chance in the 8th minute, a Turner deep free kick central delivered into the box, Carrick Hill flicked on & Eoin McCormack got a volley off, but it was blocked. Cork are pressing high, so are falling foul of the offside trap time & time again. Cork, as expected are having the majority of the game. Cautious mentality seems to be dragging them on too much so going Balanced and Counter Pressing. And we reach half-time at 0-0, a very creditable defensive performance. That said only 2 of Cork’s 9 shots have been on target as of yet. A few tweaks as we go into the 2nd half, i want a little bit more attacking threat. Condition is an issue, especially Carrick Hill (72%) – Only 90 minutes today though, then a replay midweek.
A decent start to the half, Cobh in the game a lot more with a decent chance for McCormack from a Nolan cross. Mylod has pulled off a couple of lovely camera saves today 🙂 Hill lasted until 60, Byrne on, Ekanem back to DC, Byrne to DM. I hate changing the defence. Cork scored in the 63rd minute, a ball over the top to Drinan, who finished well, but luckily he was offside – his 700th time today. Turner is knackered and on a 6.1 – Mihoubu on, Nolan switches to IW on the right. 20 left, Mihoubi is getting a bit of space on the left. 10 left…. what the hell to do? 85 gone, chance, Mihoubi well saved by the Cork Keeper. Last sub, Fleming for Taylor. Still have 3 lads in the 60’s for condition… we’ve definitely had the best of the last quarter of the game. 0-0 at full time, a superb performance, and the first time Cork hasn’t won a game since a 0-0 draw with Bohemians 8 games ago!!. We take Cork City back to St. Colman’s Park, hopefully with another bumper crowd.
Drogheda are the first 1st Division side through with an easy 2-0 win v Athlone. Limerick throught they were through after Oluwa’s 88th minute goal but Mahdy sent the tie to a replay with his 94 minute equaliser in a ding-dong 4-4, U.C.D being 3-1 up until the 61st minute and 3-2 up with 5 minutes of normal time left. Shamrock Rovers are the 1st Premier Division side through after a cagey 1-0 win v Derry City.
Also I think we just made about £15k gate from the game, 4,750 crowd less 2,700 season ticket holders = 2,000 tickets @ £13/ticket = £26k – Hoping Cork bring a few thousand over for the replay….If we make anywhere near the same we may be close to breaking even, we are £22k in the red currently. And if we win the replay (Really not expecting anything here) that would be another £17k!!!
The semi-final draw has happened. If we can (somehow) beat Cork City in the replay we will be facing…..
You guessed it, the most senior team left in the cup, Shamrock Rovers (Currently 3rd in the Premier Division…………..). You couldn’t make it up – Played top and won, played 4th and won, played 3rd and have taken them to a replay…… At least 1 First Division team will be playing for a place in the Europa Conference league next late summer – by that time Drogheda will most probably be in the Premier Division but Limerick or U.C.D most probably wont.
So we expect 400 home fans and 3,000 Cork City – 400 would be about 50 more than we are getting in the league, and if we can keep them coming afterwards then all to the good. Could be worth £20k or so to the club, which is amazing. And if we can get through we will almost certainly be in the Black for the first time since I joined, with Shamrock averaging about 2,500 fans or so.
Eoin McCormack made the First Division team of the week following his brace v Bray Wanderers.
Wednesday 16th September 2020 – Cork City (H) – FAI Cup Quarter Final Replay
I’m hoping Cork City are in the same position I am regarding fitness levels. That said I have Evan Murphy available, which will help a lot.
Dave Hurley is not quite back for this one. Murphy back in, O’Riordan on the bench (He was down in the 50’s at the end of the 1st game). Mihoubi, who looked really dangerous when he came on on Sunday, in for Nolan. Fleming for Lewis, who doesn’t make the bench (He’s only a DR, need a bit of flexibility). Cork going 4-4-1-1 again, who have made a change or two as well, and look in similar shape to us. Should be a good one.
FT Cobh Ramblers 1 (Ekanem 32) Cork City 3 (Sheppard 12, Miskelly 36, Gilchrist 65) Att 3,650 (3,170 Away)
Cork City are in blue this evening, we’re in the usual first team Claret. Cork out of the blocks very quickly, hitting the bar in the 3rd minute from a header. And they scored in the 12th, Sheppard with time in the box, placing in the bottom left hand corner past Mylod. That’s having to swap around the defence for you… We were getting chances however, Mihoubi the main cut-and-thrust going forward. And in the 32nd minute we have a “1st goal of the season” moment… not for Cork City though!!!! A Kev Taylor cross, headed clear by Griffin in the centre of the Cork City defence, met by Victor Ekanem, hitting an absolute Yeboah from 25 yards…. 1-1, Wow!! first of the season and first for Cobh Ramblers 🙂 Expect a backlash from Cork. We lasted 4 minutes, Miskelly finishing after a short O’Connor cross. Poor defending. Show some Passion! And we nearly made it 2-2 in the 44th, a brilliant break led to an Eoin McCormack thunderbolt being acrobatically saved by Ryan in the Cork net. 2-1 at HT. We’re still in this. The stats are very even, a little bit of luck would be nice though…
Cork started the better, Mylod pulling off a lovely save in the 50th minute to stop it going 3-1. And we nearly made it 2-2 in the 55th, another break from a Cork City corner, Mihoubi’s effort tipped over by Ryan. Byrne on for Thornton on 60, BWM, Porter to AP(A), Ekanem to DM(S) from BWM(S). Disaster in the 65th – McCormack gives a silly free kick away, and Gilchrist scores a header from the result. 3-1 Cork, showing their levels now. 70 gone, O’Riordan on for Hill. Last throw, Doherty on as a PF(A) for a knackered McCormack – wingers up. The game is breaking up a bit, chances for both teams coming thick and fast. But we never really looked like scoring, even with a Doherty 1-on-1 that he chipped over the bar in the 89th. Kev Taylor went off injured just as we entered injury time, no irony at all. 3-1 it finished, the boys were a credit to the club. And 480 home fans attended as well, not a bad day really 🙂
Limerick take the final spot in the semis with a good 2-0 win in Dublin.
And therein ends our crazy spell of 4 games in 9 days – have a rest lads 🙂 Finances are now at £9k in the red – £15k-or-so made on the gate, very nice indeed. But unfortunately Kev Taylor’s season is over. Sprained knee Ligaments, 6-8 weeks.
So we have 4 league games left now before we can set about strengthening for the 2021 season; one left this month (Athlone Town) and 3 in October. Cabinteely need at least 7 points and for us to lose all 4 to overtake us in 6th, and we are just 1 point back from Bray in 5th. U.C.D. are 10 points clear in 4th with 12 points left so the playoff places look pretty set. And Drogheda only really need another win for them to aa-but-mathematically pick up the title.
Our U19’s have had a friendly, beating Westport utd 1-0, Victor Ekanem with another goal 🙂
And we’ve had the League Cup Final, an all First Division affair.
Shelbourne picking up the silverware with a good win v Limerick at Oriel Park in Dundalk.
Friday 25th September 2020 – Athlone Town (H) – First Division
Tonight we welcome an Athlone Town sitting on 8 points, 6 adrift of Wexford at the bottom of the table. The scouts think maybe 1-or-2 of their players might have a sniff of getting in our side. So we all know what that means 🙂 That said we beat them 3-1 at the end of June so i have no reason to suspect other than something similar again this evening. That said we’ve not really got much to play for – it will be interesting over these last 4 games to see if the player’s attitude to games drops, and whether we see ‘Uninterested’ a bit for their body language during games.
Hurley is back, Taylor out so Fleming goes over to the left, with John Douglas on the bench who I need to give game time to. James McSweeney is back in at DC. he’s rated as good as Evan Murphy and I’d like to keep him onside. O’Riordan back up to DM, Nolan out on the left with Mihoubi to come on. Going a little bit more attacking this evening as well. Athlone go with a 4-1-2-3 DM Wide, apparently Positive so i may pull back a little bit to draw them onto us.
FT Cobh Ramblers 0 Athlone Town 2 (Gorman 54, Pierce 81) Att 344 (6 Away)
We’re in our change strip this evening v the tangerines, who start off brightly. Cobh came back into it though, with lots of possession in the Athlone half. Hurley started making the difference in the centre of the park with some good tackles, and should have scored a 1-on-1 just before 30 minutes. 0-0 at HT, Cobh have had the better of it, 2 chances to 1.
Moved to a 4-1-2-3 with the wingers up for the 2nd half. Cobh start of the brighter. Athlone scored in the 52nd, but were 5 yards offside, but almost straight away they did score – an Alamu free kick headed in by Rhys Gorman. 1-0 Athlone Town. Douglas on for Fleming at left back. Athlone are all over us. Going a bit more attacking, Turner hit the post in the 62nd minute with a weak shot. Leonard on for McCormack on 70 as a Poacher, Low Crosses turned on, Early Crosses turned off. Almost straight away leonard gets a chance, 1-on-1, but i don’t think we are getting past Aaron Myles in the Athlone net tonight, he’s saved 7 shots so far. And it was 2-0 in the 81st minute, a mistake by McSweeney letting Evan Pierce in for a 1-on-1, which of course he scored. Ekanem on for O’Riordan. Really quite poor, as I expected and dreaded. 2-0 Athlone it finished. We’re going through another episode of not being able to score. 5 chances to 2 in Cobh’s favour. Porter somehow man-of-the-match with an 8.2 (7 Key passes).
Drogheda are champions as Shelbourne lost 3-1 at Cabinteely. Drogheda maintained their unbeaten season with a 92nd minute Conor Power goal to draw at Limerick 1-1 and are now 10 points clear with 9 to play for. It looks like we are fighting to stay 6th with Bray winning at Longford and silly season looks like its started in earnest with Wexford beating U.C.D 6-5 – it was 4-4 going into injury time…. It’s not just us Wexford have done that to then!!
Our U19 drew 1-1 with Galway U19, Daire Doherty scoring again, definitely one for the future. We’ve also had our Youth Intake.
Mike Hourihane – The one position we don’t use – does look like a playmaker in the making.
13 Passing, 12 Vision , 17 Teamwork & Bravery, double digits Determination & Work Rate plus Naturally Fit – I’ll be training him up for Centre Mid duties with an attacking slant – a tiny little playmaker. Derek Higgins looks like a future BBM.
Especially love the 15 Determination there – He’s only 5ft 3 :). Juxtaposed to that we welcome the Irish Giant, Paul Byrne:
All 6ft 7 1/2in of him. At 16. Might be 6ft 9in by the time he stops growing 🙂 We also have a 6ft 6in keeper in the pipeline.
Eoin Porter makes Team of the Week, as does the Athlone keeper Aaron Myles….
The Youth Candidates drew 0-0 with a strong U19 side, Giant Byrne man of the match. All the candidates are half a star CA or better so we will get them all in (We will be letting some of the older guys go at the end of the season) and see if they can develop.
So that’s September done – An expected loss v Drogheda, a very nice win v Bray, and amazing draw followed by a brave loss v Cork City and lastly a poor loss v Athlone. The key highlights from these games are below.
Just the 3 games left, all away, Shelbourne (2nd), U.C.D. (4th) & Cabinteely (7th) – I think getting any points will be a struggle but we shall give it a go. See you soon.