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Cork City in a relegation scrap less than two years on from historic double triumph

City manager John Caulfield has acknowledged the reality of the situation that his side currently face.

Cork City manager John Caulfield (file pic).
Cork City manager John Caulfield (file pic).
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE PRESSURE IS mounting on John Caulfield and his Cork City players after they failed to halt a dismal run of results in last night’s home game against the Premier Division’s bottom side.

Kevin O’Connor’s free-kick early in the second half against Finn Harps was cancelled out by a 75th-minute equaliser from Keith Cowan, as the winless Donegal outfit picked up their fourth point of the season in their 15th game.

City are now just three points above the relegation play-off spot, having failed to win in their last eight outings. The struggling Leesiders have accumulated a total of three points during that period, as well as being limited to just four goals.

“We’re under pressure in the sense of where we’re at,” Caulfield said afterwards. “We haven’t won in a while. We’ve led three games where we’ve lost the lead and they’ve all been soft goals.

“Obviously tonight we had a number of guys who are suspended and injured, and our strength in depth isn’t as big as it was. But that’s not an excuse. It’s just the situation we’re in at the moment.

“We’re in a battle, we’re in a scrap and we have to turn it around. We have to start getting wins. When players cross the line, we need to dig out performances.

“Tonight was disappointing because we had the lead and we didn’t kill off Harps. That’s what’s frustrating. But at the same time, when you look at the table from fourth down to ninth, if you can turn your form around you can go back up the table. But at the moment we’re not getting wins and that’s disappointing.”

Currently occupying eighth place, City are three points clear of UCD, who defeated John Caulfield’s side a fortnight ago. Six points separate the Students from Finn Harps, who prop up the table. While the bottom side will be condemned to relegation in October, the team that finishes ninth will face a First Division club in a play-off with top-flight status on the line.

When asked if his team are now in a relegation battle, Caulfield responded: “Let’s call a spade a spade: we are because our position is there. We haven’t taken the points.

“The only thing is that there’s an awful long way to go, with a huge amount of games to go and loads of points to play for. But we need to get back scoring goals and winning matches. We’re working on that.” 

Now in his sixth season in charge, Caulfield has overseen the most successful period in Cork City’s 35-year history. After the FAI Cup success of 2016, City won their historic first double the following season when a successful cup defence complemented their first Premier Division title in 12 years.

Despite starting last night’s 1-1 draw against Finn Harps with six men who played prominent roles in that double-winning campaign, City are now struggling at the wrong end of the table.

“We’re in a very bad run of form and we need to get out of it,” Caulfield added. “We need to stop feeling sorry and drive on. I don’t want to sound like a played record but we have to get back and work harder.

“Maybe some of the lads are feeling the criticism and maybe they’re shying away from it. But you have to take it on the chin. A lot of that team have had great days and they’ve enjoyed the praise. At the moment it might be affecting them, but we have to override that. I’m sure that will happen.

“But we move on to Bohs, which is an incredibly tough game on Friday night, and if we don’t give a top performance we won’t get a result.” 

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