Shamrock Rovers v Bray Wanderers (Tallaght Stadium, 7.05pm)
WITH THE DISTRACTION of Tuesday night’s must-n0t-lose Champions League second leg against FK Ekranas very much on the horizon, Shamrock Rovers know that they cannot afford to lose any more domestic ground when Bray Wanderers visit Tallaght Stadium for this evening’s televised game (RTÉ2).
The Hoops’ disappointing league form has continued with just one win from four since the mid-season break and they now find themselves a sizable 10 points off the top of the Premier Division table as the league reaches its halfway point.
Rovers needed second-half goals from Ronan Finn and Gary Twigg to salvage a 2-2 draw and a point when the sides met at the Carlisle Grounds in April and although Bray’s own form has been unimpressive of late, Pat Devlin’s men always seem to raise their game against Rovers.
“I thought our back four and Oscar [Jansson, goalkeeper] were excellent on Tuesday night,” Hoops boss Stephen Kenny told ShamrockRovers.ie. “We defended very well on the night and I feel we set a standard against Ekranas. Now we need to maintain that in the league.”
Team news: The Hoops are without Aaron Greene (knee) while Craig Sives is a doubt after picking up a knock against Ekranas. Gary Twigg is suspended.
Bray are minus the suspended Kieran Marty Waters, who scored a brace in this fixture back in April, but Danny O’Connor and Adam Mitchell return from their bans. Dave Webster (knee) and Sean Houston (thigh) are back in contention.
Form (last five league): Shamrock Rovers DWLDD Bray WLLDL
Odds: Shamrock Rovers 4/11 Draw 16/5 Bray 13/2
Referee: A Kelly
Dundalk v Derry City (Oriel Park, 7.45pm)
CARETAKER MANAGER DARIUS KIERANS has called on his players to find the consistency that has deserted them all season when they welcome Derry City to Oriel Park tonight.
The Lilywhites outperformed their league position and gave lie to their off-pitch financial woes to earn a 1-1 draw against champions Shamrock Rovers last time out, but they haven’t gone more than two games unbeaten in this campaign and face a tough test if they are to match that streak tonight.
“It was hard for everyone in the dressing-room but the response that the players gave us was unbelievable, the work-rate was unreal,” Kierans told DundalkFC.com following last week’s performance. “But, as I said to them after the game, it needs to be like that every week. That should be the minimum at this level of football. That should be a given; that level of work-rate and commitment, and the discipline in the performance and the shape of the team.”
Derry’s dip in league form has coincided with a debilitating slew of injuries but the Candystripes have added incentive to take all three points back north tonight, avenging the 2-1 defeat when the sides met at the Brandywell in April.
Team news: Dundalk continue without injured quartet Luke Danville (knee), Conor McDonald (ankle), Eoghan Osborne (shin) and Shane O’Neill (groin). Liam Burns (dead leg) is a doubt but Michael Rafter (hamstring) returns to action.
Derry are still without Stewart Greacen (ankle), Kevin Deery (knee) and Rory Patterson (hamstring) while Ruaidhri Higgins is suspended. Simon Madden and Stephen McLaughlin return from bans and Mark Farren may be in with a chance of playing after he made a return to training during the week.
Form: Dundalk LDLLD Derry LDLWL
Odds: Dundalk 10/3 Draw 9/4 Derry 17/20
Referee: P McLaughlin
Shelbourne v Drogheda United (Tolka Park, 8pm)
IT’S NEXT STOP Drumcondra for high-flying Drogheda and after coming away from Inchicore with all three points last Sunday, leapfrogging St Pat’s into second place, Mick Cooke will be looking to make it six from six in Dublin tonight.
The Drogheda boss isn’t underestimating a Shelbourne side who have won three of their last five in the league though, predicting a tight and entertaining contest.
“It’s never easy travelling to Shels,” Cooke said. “They are playing well at the moment and so are we, I reckon it should be the game of the night. But we are five games unbeaten now in the league and we just want to keep that run going.”
Shels are looking to make it three wins from their last three in the league tonight but Alan Mathews know that his side will have to be at their best to beat a side emerging as one of the dark horses in the Premier Division title race.
“We know we will have to produce a really top class performance to achieve the three points on offer, but I firmly believe that we have the players to take on any side this season, and we’ll into the game full of confidence.”
Team news: Shelbourne continue without suspended Barry Clancy while Glenn Cronin also misses out as he continues to recover from the ankle injury received away to Derry City.
Drogheda’s Brian Gannon is out through injury. Ryan Brennan is suspended but both Stephen Quigley and Eric Foley return from their respective bans.
Form: Shelbourne WLLWW Drogheda DWWWW
Odds: Shelbourne 11/8 Draw 9/4 Drogheda 7/4
Referee: D Hancock
Airtricity League First Division (Friday, 7.45pm unless stated)
- Limerick v SD Galway
- Mervue United v Athlone Town
- Longford Town v Waterford United (Saturday, 7.30pm)
- Finn Harps v Wexford Youths (Saturday, 7.45pm)