McCarthy: Travelling taking its toll

Premiership

Another lethargic performance saw City leave it late at home to Usuthu on Friday, with Roland Putsche on hand to finish from close range five minutes from time to hand the Cape club just their second victory in their last 10 matches.

Yet with their three previous encounters having been played away – two in Durban and one in Mbombela – McCarthy feels the travels have influenced his charges’ style and physical effort.

“I think a couple of players didn’t pitch up on the day. When you have three, four players having a below-average game, it becomes a fight as you’re hoping everyone just defends well and you get the odd breakaway or slice of luck,” he said.

“But I think the SuperSport United game drained the life out of most of them because my players were not at the races at all. I felt like the players didn’t want to go for the punch, they didn’t try and go for it and try score an early goal – there was not a lot of urgency. Too many players were having an off-game – it could be because of the travelling, as we played Maritzburg in Durban, then came back before going to Mbombela to play SuperSport, which was one hell of a journey.”

With fatigue and lack of match fitness playing a role, McCarthy’s substitutes were key, with the former Bafana Bafana striker delighted with the contributions of Lyle Lakay, Teko Modise and 20-year-old Ghanaian Nana Akosah-Bempah, who was played a part in the build up to the winning goal.

“The substitutes we made were planned: [Aubrey] Ngoma and [Victor] Obinna were coming back from long-term injuries, so we are still easing them back in,” McCarthy said. “Irrespective of how the game was going or how they were feeling, I was going to take them off after 55-60 minutes, as I don’t want them to break down again.

“And the subs we made were very positive. Lyle came in and made a difference, Teko was able to get them [the defenders] looking backwards as he was looking to get in those balls behind the defence. Nana was a breath of fresh air, he was fearless and that’s exactly where our goal came from. So I was very happy with the subs and how effective they were when they came in.”

The win leaves the Citizens fifth in the standings, the victory providing some reprieve after a tough December.

“It’s been coming,” McCarthy said. “We’ve been playing good football, but it’s been those lapses of concentration that has let us down, where we can’t close out matches. So I’m very glad the players were able to close this one out as it would have been a shame to go two in a row, like at SuperSport, to come away with less than three points, where we didn’t deserve to.”

Next up for City is a tough away fixture against Mamelodi Sundowns in their final game of 2017 on Tuesday night.

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