AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport
Having spoken about building on the positives shown in the opening day defeat away to Cork City in his pre-match press conference last week, Cobh Ramblers manager Stuart Ashton admitted his side were totally taken off guard by the manner in which UCD brushed the “Rams” aside at St.Colman’s Park last Saturday with both Ashton and his players keen to ensure such a showing is a once often.
“The reaction after the match everyone was bitterly disappointed, we’ve had analysis of that and we’ve got it out in the open so to speak and since then we’ve left it behind us as such and we’ve moved on from it. The lads know that (the performance) wasn’t acceptable, they’ve all agreed that…. why it happened? We can’t put our finger on it, it was just a bad day at the office, we can play the blame game but it’s just a collective one where there wasn’t enough of us at it, we were second best on the day, that wasn’t acceptable but as I said we’ve had those chats and we all know where we stand with that from here on in” replied the Cobh Ramblers boss when asked how his players had reacted around the camp since the heavy 4-0 defeat on Saturday night.
Having now suffered back-to-back defeats at the start of this season a tough trip to an unbeaten Treaty United side is what awaits Ramblers on Friday night with Tommy Barrett’s Limerick outfit taking four points from their first-ever two league games at League of Ireland level. Having picked up more wins on the road than at St.Colman’s last season, in fact, only the top two had more away wins than Cobh Ramblers in 2020, Stuart Ashton is hoping another Munster derby on the road can help bring more out of his players than we saw at the weekend.
“We’re looking for a reaction from the disappointment of last week, so far we’ve got that (on the training ground) but obviously the main one (reaction) is on the pitch on Friday in the game and that’s what we’ve got to bounce back from, the performance in the first game was excellent albeit getting the right result we were in the right direction so to speak but then what happened was a big shock if we’re being honest with everyone and we’ve got to react to that now and hopefully we can do the job away from home, we can do that, we’ve proven that (last season) so now we’ve got to get back on track with an away win,” said Ashton.
Having conceded six goals in just two league matches it’s clear where Cobh’s problems have lay early on this campaign and when asked if we might see his team “go back to basics” and try to perform something of a form u-turn off the back of steadying the teams back four against Treaty Ashton admitted these were the sort of conversations the team had carried out at the training ground this week.
“That’s what we’ve said in training now that we need to press the reset button and go back to basics. That’s not to say we’ve gone and chucked everything from pre-season into the river, that’s not the case because the lads have worked hard and we showed in the first game we can match the so-called better teams but then we came out and it was a real Jekyll & Hyde, performance the UCD game and was totally out of our character and the big disappointment for me was the way we lost it, we were second best to things, gave away cheap balls, it just wasn’t us and as we said already we’ve had that chat and we’ve all agreed it ain’t acceptable so from that view we’ve not gone back to basics but we need to reset and get ourselves back on track with hopefully the right performance and hopefully if we keep getting the performances right then the results will follow in my mind” remarked Ashton.
Thankfully for Ashton, Saturday’s defeat against the “Students” wasn’t as heavy as the 6-0 home defeat inflicted on them last season but aside from that rout Ramblers next heaviest home defeat was a 2-0 loss against the eventual First Division champions Drogheda United. Despite the fact Cobh only won three of their nine home games in last year’s shortened season (losing 4) St.Colman’s Park is generally a ground most teams do not look forward to visiting given the tight dimensions of the pitch and the never say die attitude usually on display from the plucky Ramblers so with that in mind Ashton was clear to point out it’s time for the group to wipe Saturday’s defeat from their mind and chalk it down as a once-off.
“You can get away with one or two (players) having an off day but more than that then you don’t stand a chance. I suppose the most disappointing thing was for half-an-hour we were in the game and we have as good as we got and it was a well-fought battle but the one goal turned it and as we found out it really turned it and we didn’t react to that and that’s the disappointing part and we have to learn from that and show the true side of the individuals themselves and the character we know we have and as I say, we’ve had a good week, the spirits have been good and hopefully we can move on for the game tomorrow” commented Ashton.
As disappointed as the Cobh manager was with his teams on display on Saturday Ashton had no issue in admitting his admiration for the quality shown by UCD and perhaps his players should have heeded their bosses pre-match comments last week when Ashton declared his belief Andy Meyler’s men would be right up there fighting for promotion again this season having gone down in a blaze of glory during a dramatic play-off with the eventual play-off winners Longford Town.
“We thought that (UCD would be up there) at the start of the season anyway, they (UCD) were one of the ones who missed out last season so they’re no mugs, they’ll be up and around there again this season,” remarked Ashton who went on to admit the fact his team knew what to expect from the “College” made the manner of the performance and the result that little bit harder to take on Saturday.
Taking into account Ashton’s remarks about “hitting the reset button” perhaps a game against something of an unknown quantity might be the perfect opportunity for Cobh Ramblers as they can focus on developing their own game and not overthink what way the opposition may set up given the fact there are only two “real” games to judge them off and that some of their players are unproven at this level (albeit the same can be said for some of Ramblers new signings from the Munster Senior League ranks). When such a suggestion was put to Ashton he was keen to emphasise his earlier point on “hitting the reset button.”
“We have to press the reset button, we have to get ourselves in order again now and get our performances back to where we know they should be and if we do that and we’re competitive then we’ll give any team a good game. Tommy (Barrett) will have them (Treaty) well-drilled, he’s got a few experienced fellas in there who’ve played LOI before so they’ll be no mugs, they’ll be well-drilled, they’ll be competitive as we know they’ve set off brightly so it’s up to ourselves, we’ve got to look after ourselves and as I said we’ve had a good week training, we’ve put it aside (the UCD game) and we’re ready for the next challenge” concluded Ashton.
In terms of team news for Ramblers trip to County Limerick, Stuart Ashton confirmed goalkeeper Corey Chambers is out due to a hamstring issue picked up in training while Ben O’Riordan is described as “touch and go” as he continues to battle back from a bought of tonsilitis.
Treaty United v Cobh Ramblers kicks off at 7.45 pm tomorrow night live on LOITV from the Market Fields. For an in-depth preview of the game with discussion and predictions from our co-hosts skip forward to 1hr17m on S5EP5 of Between the Stripes LOI podcast available on all podcast providers or via BetweenTheStripes.net.