Author: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport
While it was Cork City who came away with the bragging rights on the opening weekend of the First Division season Cobh Ramblers manager Stuart Ashton is keen to take what he saw as the many positives away from the performance of his side against a full-time Cork City team who will have ambitions of making an instant return to the top table of Irish football. A combination of sloppy defending and a lack of sharpness in front of goal saw the Rams lose out 2-1 at Turners Cross but with their first home game of the new campaign now on the horizon Ashton admitted at a club press conference today his players are “chomping at the bit” to right the wrongs of the derby day defeat when UCD visit St.Colman’s Park on Saturday night.
“We’ve got all the plaudits for the performance (against Cork), I was delighted with the way we played but we didn’t get anything from it and that’s the harsh reality of it, we’ve had that discussion with the lads this week so we’ve taken the positives out of it so we’ve got to continue that” said the Cobh boss.
With the UCD game this weekend being followed by meetings with Treaty United and Wexford for Stuart Ashton’s side a strong start to the league season could still be on the card for Ramblers despite the heartbreak of an opening night defeat. However, as much as Ashton and the Ramblers fans would like to get some early points on the board the former assistant at Cork City was keen to stress there’s a long road ahead for every team in the league this season.
“Of course it was disappointing to take no points from the opening game and every team wants points on the board as early as they can we’re no different but it’s a long season so we’re not pushing any panic button yet because if we play with that attitude every week we’ll be alright,” remarked Ashton.
While the sort of attitude Ashton mentions is of course important if a team are going to be involved in the promotion shakeup come the business end of the season a lack of goals has been a real issue at St.Colman’s Park for a number of years now and a lack of ruthlessness was again the clubs Achilles heel in the Cork defeat with Ramblers turning down a number of clear cut chances.
“Goals change games, we had two opportunities early on in the first fifteen minutes so it could have been 2-1 at that stage but if we take those opportunities its a different game, later in the game we’ve had chances too so again we’ve had those discussions about taking chances when they come our way” replied an honest Ashton.
Goals were not an issue for UCD on the opening weekend as they race into a 2-1 lead at home to Athlone Town but as the clock struck ninety-four-minutes at the UCD last weekend up stepped Adam Wixted to rescue a point for the Midlanders in what was a thoroughly entertaining contest. Having been sunk by two stoppage-time goals against the other Midlands club Longford Town in the play-offs last season seeing out games and keeping it tight at the back when the pressure is on may be an issue that again follows Andy Meyler’s troops around this season so with that in mind Ashton again pressed home the point of being clinical in front of goal at today’s media event.
“They (Cobh players) knew they threw it away (against Cork), that’s harsh but the reality of it is they know they’ve played well and you know when you’re the better team so they were bitterly disappointed afterward. The lads have been chomping at the bit in training and although we feel one or two decisions maybe went against us (against Cork) we aren’t moaning, we know the finishing has got to be better” emphasised Ashton.
Like the majority of sides in the division Cobh Ramblers had a busy off-season but while some of the better-resourced sides in the league went after the more established names available in the transfer market Stuart Ashton was shopping in the non-league ranks with the Cork club bringing in no less than seven players from the Munster Senior League. When asked how he felt his new arrivals were settling in at this level Ashton revealed his delight at the array of options he now has to choose from on matchday.
“I’m delighted with them, they’re new to this level and stilling learning as they go which is part & parcel of it but they’re doing a fine job and pushing for places which is why they were brought in.”
One of the more experienced players in the Cobh ranks at this level is defender Charlie Lyons who was a mainstay in the back four last season but the former Preston North End defender was in agreement with his manager that the defending has to be better for the visit of UCD on Saturday.
“We conceded two sloppy goals (against Cork), a set piece we should’ve cleared twice before it went in and I felt the first goal against run of play and we didn’t react like we should of but the performance overall against a full-time outfit was good and we’ll take positives out of it” said the Cork native Lyons who also stated the teams need to be more consistent on home turf this year.
Despite the positivity on offer from both players and management following what was clearly a damaging defeat to their local rivals Stuart Ashton is under no illusions as to the test his side will face this weekend.
“UCD are always there or thereabouts and I don’t expect anything different this year. We’ve got to prepare right, they’ve got familiar faces from last year but they’ve added too, we’ve got to get ourselves right on the training ground for Saturday night concluded Ashton who has no new injury or suspension headaches to deal with ahead of this weekend.