First welcomes third in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division on Monday night when Waterford travel to Oriel Park in a bid to beat Dundalk for the second time this month (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Lilywhites succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the Regional Sports Centre at the start of the month but have won three matches on the bounce since, the latest being a 2-0 win over Bohemians last Friday.
“We were a little bit fortunate to go in at half-time 1-0 on Friday,” said Dundalk midfielder Robbie Benson following that hard-fought win in Dalymount Park.
“Bohemians had two really big chances just before the break but Pat (Hoban) got the early goal and that settled us down. We kept things at the back like we have all year so it was more of the same as that.
“We kept everything in check and did well. I have faith in our back five to do that every game. It gave us the platform to go get the second from Sean Hoare and it was good to see out the win.
“The three points was very important to us on Friday. We had a good week. It was important that we made the most of the three games in a week.
“We did well in the week. We got three wins out of three which is what we wanted.
“They were three tough games and it was important that we did win because everyone is winning so we wanted to get the win again and to get nine from nine is a good week for us.
“I think we are playing some good football at the moment and we are all enjoying it. We have a quick turnaround from when we played Waterford a few weeks ago.
“They are a good side and they will be hurting after their loss on Friday night so we know they will come here and want to get back on track themselves.
“They will come all guns blazing. We know how good they can be but we are in good form too and good at home so we will be ready for them and we will try to win the game.”
Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell suffered a broken leg the last time these two sides met and will miss the remainder of the season.
John Mountney and Sean Gannon are also facing several weeks on the treatment table, but Karolis Chvedukas has returned to full training this week following a persistent ankle injury.
Alan Reynolds’ side have stuttered since that remarkable win over Dundalk three weeks ago, picking up just two points from a possible nine which has seen them fall seven points behind the leaders.
Their latest fixture on Friday night saw them suffer a shock 6-3 home defeat against struggling Munster rivals Limerick, but striker Courtney Duffus did bag his eighth and ninth goals of the season.
“I don’t know how I sum it up,” Reynolds told the club’s official website.
We started poorly and gave away a goal from a set piece once again which is disappointing. We were three goals down and a man down inside 21 minutes.”
“I said to the lads that we would have a go at it at half time and see where it takes us because we were after getting a goal back before the break.
“I thought that we did well to get back to 3-2 until the decision for the fourth goal for Limerick. Dylan Barnett is getting treatment for the tackle and could be out for a week or two.
“We were as positive as we could be, and we tried to get something out of the game. We ran out of steam at the end of the game and ended up conceding those two late goals.
“We have had three away games in a week and we’ve spoken about that. It’s a tough act for us but we’re doing our best and we’ll look forward to the game against Dundalk.
“Do I think that we’re going to win the league? No, I don’t think so, but we’re having a great season and the players have been absolutely fantastic but we need to keep going.”
Stanley Aborah was sent off in that defeat to Limerick and will miss this match as a result while both John Kavanagh and Garry Comerford miss out through knee and foot injuries respectively.
Dylan Barnett picked up an ankle injury in Friday night’s match and is rated doubtful for this encounter.
Referee: Rob Hennessy.
Prior to this season, Waterford hadn’t beaten Dundalk in ten years. Should the Blues win this fixture, then it would be their second win in the space of three weeks against the Lilywhites.
Waterford have not recorded a victory at Oriel Park since end of the 2002/03 season, when the Blues were promoted as First Division champions whereas Dundalk finished ninth in the second tier.
The first meeting between these two sides produced a ten-goal thriller, when Dundalk thrashed their Munster opponents 7-3 at the old Athletic Grounds on the 24th August, 1930.
Dundalk 2/5; Draw 7/2; Waterford 7/1.
Dundalk 1-1 Waterford
Injured: John Mountney, Sean Gannon, Stephen O’Donnell.
Doubtful: Karolis Chvedukas.
Injured: John Kavanagh, Garry Comerford.
Doubtful: Dylan Barnett.
Suspended: Stanley Aborah.