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Shelbourne will seek revenge for a heavy 2017 SSE Airtricity League First Division defeat in March when they face UCD at Tolka Park on Friday April 21st (kick-off 7.45 p.m.).
The Reds suffered a 4-0 loss when they visited the Belfield Bowl earlier in the season. However, Shels have picked-up eleven points since that fixture and sit in fourth position in the table, just two points behind the Students.
Successive defeats to Longford Town (first in the league and then in the EA Sports Cup) have slightly darkened the mood around Tolka Park.
Dayle Rooney gave Shelbourne an early lead in last week’s league encounter at the City Calling Stadium but that was as good as it got. A couple of concessions at free-kicks sandwiched an Enda Curran penalty as Longford triumphed 3-1.
Manager Owen Heary wasn’t unduly discouraged by last weekend’s match. He told the club's website:
“We started quite well in the game, scored early and then conceded a silly set piece – straight ball into the box that we should have defended. We go in at half time 2-1 down from a penalty incident. Second half we have a go.”
Heary felt a couple of decisions went against his team. “We get caught again from a free kick – but in the game itself, we should have got one of the penalties, at least, which would have brought us back into the game but I can’t fault them performance wise, I just think that we switched off at times which allowed Longford back into the game.”
“The free kick was the killer blow – a straight ball into the box, should have been defended a lot better. Second goal, it’s a mistake – we pass it back and Deano [Delany] comes rushing out and we give away a penalty.
“Overall a disappointing result, but performance wise, it wasn’t the worst performance. If we can keep putting in performances, I’ll be happy, but we need to stop the silly mistakes that are conceding goals.”
Longford visited Tolka Park on Monday and plundered a 2-0 win in the second round of the EA Sports Cup.
Owen Heary rotated his squad for the Cup game but is quite bullish as he anticipates the UCD challenge.
“It’s important that we go into this game feeling, and believing, that we can win. We rested a number of players [in the EA Cup game] keeping the focus on Friday’s game.
“We were able to use that game to give playing time to some of the players coming back, [giving] ninety minutes to a number of players: David O’Leary, Chris Lyons, Niall Lanigan.”
UCD topped the table after their 4-0 thumping of Shelbourne on 3rd March. The Students will travel across the City for tomorrow night’s re-match in second spot, just ahead of Cobh Ramblers on goal difference.
Like Shelbourne, UCD exited the EA Sports Cup at the second-round stage on Monday. The Students emerged with credit from their loss on penalties at Oriel Park against treble SSE Airtricity league champions Dundalk.
With goalkeeper Niall Corbet outstanding, UCD led for quite a while at Oriel after Gary O’Neill’s first half strike. Conor Clifford levelled late on and a Gabriel Sava save eventually saw Dundalk through.
Last week in the league, UCD battled back from 2-0 down at home to Cabinteely to share the spoils with their South County Dublin neighbours.
Former UCD star man Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters gave Cabo their two-goal cushion before Cian Kavanagh and George Kelly (the Students’ top scorer this season with five goals) replied for UCD.
"It's good to come back into any game when you go 2-0 down. There was good character shown by the team," UCD boss Collie O’Neill told the SSE Airtricity league website after the game.
"We've seen a different side to the lads that we didn't see over the last few games, so I'm happy with that point in the end."
Collie O'Neill is happy with how his charge have performed so far this season. "It's gone well, but there's still room for improvement.
“They're top class footballers, and I wouldn't change any one of those young players in there with another young player in another team. It's just a case of having them believe how good they actually are."
Looking ahead to the Shels match, O’Neill said: “It's going to be very difficult for us. Shelbourne will be looking to prove a point after the way the game went earlier in the season.
“They have been in good form over the last few weeks, and we are going to have to be at our very best if we are to come away from the game with something."
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea.
All of UCD’s goals in their 4-0 win last month came within the first half hour. Shels’ Jamie Doyle was sent off in second half injury time.
UCD won both last season’s league encounters at Tolka Park. The result on both occasions was 2-1. Defender Maxi Kuougun scored twice for the Students in the April 8th, 2016 match.
Shels last home league win against UCD was on August 28th, 2015. Philip Hughes and James English scored for the Reds on that occasion.
This match brings together the team with the worst disciplinary record in the league (Shels – 19 yellows, one red) and the side with the best (UCD – eight yellows).
Shelbourne: last five league games: DWWWL
UCD: last five league games: DWLWD
Shelbourne: 8/5; Draw: 9/4; UCD: 8/5
Shelbourne 2 - 2 UCD
Injured: Dylan Kavanagh.
Doubtful: Michael Murphy.
Injured: Simon Power (calf), Neil Farrugia (broken collarbone).
Doubtful: Gary O'Neill (groin).