Following a bitterly disappointing Bank Holiday weekend, Galway United make the long trek to St Colman’s Park on Saturday for a critical SSE Aitricity League first division fixture against Cobh Ramblers (7pm ).
A 46-week wait for a home league fixture was terminated last Friday when Cabinteely visited the Dyke Road venue, but it turned into a demoralising comeback for United, who were soundly beaten 0-2 by the table toppers.
Then on Monday United could only manage a 2-2 draw against bottom placed Athlone Town, who were unfortunate not to leave the west armed with the full complement of spoils. The promising Francely Lomboto made an important intervention as a substitute, netting a late equaliser to ensure United avoided an embarrassing reversal.
With skipper Shane Duggan suspended, and injuries to Josh Smith, Conor Melody, and Enda Curran restricting the options, United’s performances were still poor. Mitigating factors exist, but there is no denying that improvement is required quickly, starting with the trip to Cobh.
It represents a difficult assignment for Alan Murphy’s outfit, who must show far greater ambition and imagination in the centre of the park. United’s long deliveries from the back proved frustrating in the Cabinteely and Athlone tussles, and much better service has to be supplied for Mikey Place.
The hardworking frontrunner impressed against Athlone, grabbing an opportunist goal when punishing an Athlone lapse in concentration. Indeed it was Place who provided the cross also for Lomboto’s leveller, further underlining his value to the United cause.
Place missed the early away draws against Shamrock Rovers II and Wexford FC, but his return to action has offered a welcome attacking boost. At the opposite end of the pitch Kevin Horgan contributed two excellent displays at the weekend, repeatedly thwarting the opposition with smart reflex saves.
Worrying signs were evident during the two games with United’s frailties defending set pieces exposed by Cabinteely and Athlone. Former United player Ronan Manning was the most influential figure on view for Athlone, crafting chances and causing the home team severe problems.
Duggan’s availability following a two match ban is a real boost and the experienced midfielder offers a wealth of experience. Murphy’s drive and desire for the United cause is unquestionable, but the Ballinrobe native will be fully aware that his squad has to stitch a winning sequence together soon.
Having chalked up four victories in a row, a gritty Cabinteely set the standard, but every other club in a competitive division has endured a setback or two so far. Currently that is one of the few crumbs of comfort available for United, who must pick up a positive result down south.
Horgan’s solidity, Duggan’s awareness, and Place’s threat will need to be showcased once again in order to offer some inspiration for a United squad that requires an injection of momentum and confidence.