Cork City v Dundalk FC, Fri 21 September, 19:15

Things should remain tight between the top two sides

Form: 

Dundalk return to league action for the first time in September for a top of the table meeting with Cork City in Turner’s Cross.

September has seen a win in the FAI Cup over Limerick and a loss in the Leinster Senior Cup against St Patrick’s Athletic. Their league form reads two wins either side of a 2-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght.

Cork for their part are in trouble form-wise. Despite a 7-0 thumping of First Division side Longford in the FAI Cup, they’ve dropped points in their last three league games including a dispiriting 4-2 defeat to Bohemians at Dalymount Park last time out. That result put paid to any realistic hopes of a City title challenge over the final few games, their last win in the league over Waterford at the start of August will feel a long time ago at this stage.

Dundalk lead the Premier Division by six points from Cork. The Lilywhites have five games left on the table after they play Cork, City will have just four. Even if Cork win, to expect Dundalk to drop the required points seems a stretch.

The Match:

Each team’s respective form lines can only say so much when looking at the state of play in the league. Cork, for all their recent travails, are still 15 points ahead of third placed Shamrock Rovers in the table. Cork and Dundalk have operated in a head-to-head context for the last number of seasons.

Their rivalry is highlighted by the fact that in the last 10 meetings between the two sides, only once has there been a game where there’s been more than one goal between them – Dundalk 0 Cork 3  in February of last year.

The expectation of a tight game is only increased when looking at Cork City’s home form. John Caufield’s side concede an average of 1.2 goals per game when on the road, that number tumbles to 0.4 at Turner’s Cross. Dundalk’s defence is by far the best in the league, they concede on average only 1 goal every two games, that’s both at home and away.

In their three meetings in the league this season, the home side have won out by a single goal on each occasion. Dundalk winning 1-0, and 2-1, with a 1-0 win for Cork City in the first game in Turner’s Cross.

Verdict:

Cork, for all their recent woe, are available in a number of markets at what looks like inflated prices. They’ll also be playing with a life or death approach that Stephen Kenny’s men may find hard to match.

Considering this season’s head to head after three games stands in favour of the home side at 100 per cent, and both sides average substantially less than one goal conceded per game (Cork at home 0.4, Dundalk away 0.5) – backing Cork City to win with under 2.5 goals looks good at a price of 11/2.

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