Drogheda United are set to finally get their 2018 First Division season underway on Sunday afternoon as they face Athlone Town at United Park.
Floodlight issues and the recent bad weather saw Drogheda’s first two league games, against Finn Harps and Shelbourne, along with their EA Sports Cup tie vs St. Mochta’s, postponed.
Drogheda now face six games in twenty days and after the delayed start, manager Tim Clancy is hopeful his side can start on a positive note.
“It’s been a long wait, some things have been out of our control so we just have to accept the delay and not use it as any kind of an excuse,” Clancy told the club’s official website.
“We’ve had a really good pre-season and I can see that the players are already starting to link-up well together in training.”
“We’ve played four Premier Division sides and had some good results to go along with positive performances so hopefully Sunday will follow in that vein,” Clancy said.
Athlone lost 4-1 to Galway United on the opening night of the season but Clancy, who has a full squad to choose from, is expecting a tough test against Athlone.
“They obviously had a rough time of it against Galway but I’m sure they won’t be the last side to get a drubbing there.”
“No side wants to start the season with back-to-back defeats so I’m expecting a real battle tomorrow,” Clancy said.
“Even from the first couple rounds of results, you can see how competitive the First Division is going to be. United Park isn’t an easy place to go to, I don’t think opposition players enjoy playing here and we need to take full advantage of that.”
Athlone Town head to Drogheda on Sunday afternoon looking to bounce back from their defeat to Galway on the opening day of the season.
Athlone lost 4-1 as Danny Furlong scored a hattrick for the Tribesman. Ronan Manning scored Galway's other goal while Felix Bape Perez netted a 93rd minute consolation for Athlone.
This new look Athlone side features a number of players with Drogheda links. Brian Cabraley was with Drogheda United's U19 side last season while both Ollie Hamzat and Darren Kavanagh are also former Drogheda underage players.
Hamzat played for Cabinteely in the First Division last season while Kavanagh played for LSL side Drogheda Town.
The last time Athlone began a season with back to back defeats was the 2014 Premier Division season, where they went thirteen games without a win before picking up two in three games, including a 6-0 victory over Drogheda.
Team news for Athlone is unknown but manager Aaron Callaghan has no suspension worries.
Referee: Damien MacGraith
These sides last met in the First Division in 2016.
There were four meetings between the sides that year, the first at United Park ended in a 2-2 draw while Drogheda won the other three.
The last five meetings between the sides have been close contests, ending in a draw or with one side winning by a single goal. You have to go to the Premier Division meeting in June 2014 to see a difference - Athlone won 6-0 on that occasion.
Drogheda United 1/12; Draw 13/2; Athlone Town 17/1.
Drogheda United 2-0 Athlone Town