Sixth-placed Shamrock Rovers welcome tenth-placed Bray Wanderers to Tallaght Stadium on Saturday evening in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division (kick-off 7pm).
The Hoops will be looking to bounce back immediately from their 5-2 defeat to Dundalk on the 1st June with a win over bottom of the table Bray. Despite the score-line, Rovers boss Stephen Bradley was pleased with his sides’ first half display but rued the loss of key players during the game as well as feeling decisions went against his side.
"I thought the first half [against Dundalk] was probably up there with the best we've played this season, we were excellent. We're playing against a top team with some top players and I haven't seen many teams that can do that to them like we did.
“The changes in the game really hurt us considering what we were missing already so that was unfortunate. It was there for all to see the impact that [Dan Carr and Ronan Finn's] injuries had on the performance. We were the ones in control of the game and both changes knocked us.
“And we gave away some soft goals to a really good team. It's fine margins in those games. We could have been two up but we don't and they go up and score. We had one that looked over the line and wasn't given, and the [Aaron Bolger] penalty as well. If you go 2-0 up I think you win the game comfortably but we don't and they punish us at the other end. I think the result says one story but the performance says a different story.
“Some of the decisions given on the night were horrendous but they're going to give those free kicks and we have to defend them properly and we didn't. Our defending against a team that we knew were dangerous at set pieces wasn't good enough. Some of the goals that we gave away were really poor from our point of view and that's the bit that we're disappointed with.”
Rovers have only registered two wins in the last 12 league outings and Bradley is aiming for two wins before the break in order to put as much pressure as possible on 3rd place.
“We need to go and win against Bray and Limerick, if you do that you go into the break not far off the team in third place. All those teams play each other in the next two weeks. We need to look after our own business and win those games.
“We beat Bray well in Tallaght but out there the conditions were a real leveller that night and there was nothing in the game. It wasn't a great game and we gave away a poor goal from a back pass which is unlike us. They'll be coming full of confidence after beating Pat's last week so we've got to make sure that we're ready to go.”
In team news, Ronan Finn took a bad knock to the head against Dundalk and Dan Carr felt his hamstring and had to come off with both set to be assessed ahead of this game. Brandon Miele is still a couple of weeks away from fitness whilst Aaron Bolger and Dean Dillon are doing exams but Bolger should be available. Kevin Horgan returns.
The Seasiders announced the appointment of Martin Russell as first-team manager on a permanent basis ahead of Saturday's visit to Tallaght Stadium.
The Dubliner had been assisting caretaker manager Graham Kelly on a consultancy basis for the past two months and now takes over the job on a full-time basis.
He comes into the role with Bray at the foot of the table, seven points adrift of Limerick in 9th place. Since defeating Shamrock Rovers in their last encounter (1-0 win in the Carlisle Grounds in April), the Wicklow based side have had very contrasting results.
Despite wins over Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic and a 2-2 draw against Waterford, Bray have shipped 20 goals in their other seven games, all losses, scoring only twice.
No team news from the Bray camp has been made available for this game.
Bray Wanderers have conceded the most goals in the league this season – 53 and scored the least – 14. Shamrock Rovers, despite their position in the table, have the third meanest defence having only let in 22 goals.
Shamrock Rovers first season to face a Bray named side was in the 1924-25 season. Bray Unknowns lost 3-0 and drew 1-1 in a season that saw the Hoops take their second league title. Billy Farrell (25 goals) and Robert Fullam (20 goals) topped the scoring charts as Rovers registered 67 goals in only 18 games. Bray finished second last four points ahead of Dublin Pioneers.
Graham Burke is Shamrock Rovers’ top league scorer this season with 10 goals.
Shamrock Rovers 2/9; Draw 11/2; Bray Wanderers 10/1;
Shamrock Rovers 3-1 Bray Wanderers
Injured: Brandon Miele
Doubtful: Ronan Finn, Dan Carr