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Shelbourne will be hoping to pick up their first league win of the 2017 campaign as they welcome Waterford to Tolka Park on Friday (kick-off 7.45 pm).
Goals have been in short supply for the Reds so far this season but Owen Heary’s men will surely take heart from Adam Evans’ last gasp equaliser in Cobh last Saturday.
That strike from Evans gave Shelbourne their first league goal of the season and a 1-1 draw against Cobh Ramblers. It was Shels’ second draw of the season after the opening night home stalemate with Longford.
Those two draws and the costly 0-4 thumping away to UCD leave Shelbourne in seventh place. Waterford currently head the table on goal difference, ahead of UCD and Athlone. However, the gap between the Blues and Shels is just four points.
Shels defender Jack Tuite is still banned after his sending off against UCD. Although he played in Cobh, last season’s top scorer James English is doubtful after being stretchered off at the Belfield Bowl. Shelbourne’s cause against the title favourites will not be helped either by a continuing lengthy injury list.
Against Waterford, Shelbourne will be hoping to recapture some of their impressive pre-season form, which saw friendly victories over Bohemians, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Derry City as well as a Leinster Senior Cup win over Wexford.
Table-toppers Waterford will make the trip to Dublin on the back of two solid wins, against Cabinteely and over likely challengers UCD.
The blip against Portuguese-influenced Athlone Town a few weeks back is fast becoming a distant memory.
Waterford were also in Dublin last Friday night with a strong second half performance ending the Students’ 100% league record. Goals by Patrick McClean and Tom Smith secured a comprehensive 2-0 win at the Bowl.
Speaking to the Waterford media team after scoring his first goal for the Blues, Tom Smith said: “I’m delighted to get the goal. Davy McDaid put the ball on the plate for me so if I missed it was all on me really but it’s nice to see it find the net. I’m really enjoying it here.
“It’s two wins on the bounce and it’s two clean sheets so in that regard we couldn’t ask for anything better. We need to look at the next game now where we need to look for the same and even more.”
Waterford defender David Mulcahy probably has a unique insight into what to expect from Shels. “I’ve played with and for Owen Heary so I know what type of team that he likes to put together. It will be very defensive, very direct and a very physical team. I know that they got a good result down in Cobh where it's always very hard to play with a tight pitch.”
Referee: Paula Brady.
Shelbourne and Waterford have faced-off 25 times in the League of Ireland since 2007. Shelbourne have won 16 of those games, Waterford five and there have been four draws. At Tolka Park, Shelbourne have won six games, Waterford four and there have been two draws.
The two meetings of Shelbourne and Waterford at Tolka Park last season ended in wins for the visitors. Shels did win 4-1 away in April last year, a game in which English netted a hat-trick but Waterford were 2-1 victors in the other game at the RSC.
Shelbourne’s last home league victory over Waterford was a 1-0 success in May 2015. Gareth Coughlan’s second half penalty divided the sides on that occasion.
Shelbourne: last five league games LLDLD
Waterford: last five league games WWLWW
Shelbourne 21/10; Draw 23/10; Waterford 11/10
Shelbourne 0-2 Waterford
Injured: James O’Brien, Dylan Kavanagh, Chris Lyons, Adam O’Connor.
Doubtful: James English.
Suspended: Jack Tuite.
Doubtful: Mark O'Sullivan, Sander Puri, David McDaid.