Drogheda United's hunt for immediate promotion back to the Premier Division continues as they well fellow relegated side Finn Harps to United Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
After two defeats on the bounce for The Boynesiders, they managed to stop the rot against Cobh Ramblers last Friday night with a 2-1 win.
Tim Clancy’s men are in with a good shout at the First Division title coming into the business end of the season as they sit in second place, four points behind leaders UCD.
Goals from Ciaran Kelly and Luke Gallagher sealed the victory last week and Clancy will be looking for more of the same on Friday night when Finn Harps visit United Park.
“We needed that result and it was exactly what we deserved,” Clancy told the club’s website.
“I thought we were a little off with our passing early on but that’s probably down to the mid-season break and we settled down quickly.
“It was great to get in front but it was a blow to concede the penalty from such an innocuous incident.
“I think we showed real character to come back from a moment like that, compose ourselves and still go on to get the three points.
“It really was the least we deserved after all the bad luck over the last few weeks.”
UCD’s loss to Longford Town last week helped The Boynesiders gain some ground on the Students but it is still very tight at the top end of the First Division table.
“It’s just so tight at the top, the picture seems to change every week,” he said.
“It was a bad night for UCD but it was a massive result for Longford which keeps the pressure on us to stay in second place.
“We want to be looking up rather than looking back at what’s behind us but it can all change so quickly.
“We lost last time away to Harps where we should’ve had the game won by half-time. I don’t think the players have forgotten that and hopefully that’ll inspire them to get a positive result on Friday.”
Conor Kane is the only injury doubt for Drogheda going into Friday night’s game and the side will be boosted by the return of Jake Hyland and Sean Brennan from suspension.
Harps are currently in fifth place and lie just outside of the playoff positions.
Their win away to Cabinteely in Stradbrook last Friday has kept them within touching distance of the teams above them however, and a win against Drogheda would bring them level on points with the Boynesiders.
Ollie Horgan’s men have faced Drogheda twice this season with each side taking a win in the previous fixtures.
This is a huge chance for the Donegal club to bring themselves into the title picture but Horgan is aware of the challenge that faces them on Friday night in Drogheda.
“Drogheda defeated Cobh last Friday night without Jake Hyland and Sean Brennan. These two players have a lot of experience so that is a boost for them,” he told the club’s website.
“Tim Clancy has done a good job there and Drogheda deserves to be in second place. He also has a goalkeeper Paul Skinner who knows what it takes to get results in the League of Ireland.
“Chris Lyons, Gareth McCaffrey and Richie Purdy are all decent players who will give us bother if we allow them.”
Ciaran O’Connor and Tommy McBride are unavailable for selection again on Friday night as both players see out the second part of their two game suspensions.
Adam Duffy is sidelined with injury while Mark Coyle is a doubt for Horgan with the player sitting out training midweek.
Friday night’s game will be the rubber match between the sides as they each took a win in their first two meetings this season.
Both sides are going for their tenth win of the season.
Harps could draw level on points with Drogheda should they win Friday night’s game. There are just seven points separating the sides in the top half of the table.
Drogheda United 22/23; Draw 13/5; Finn Harps 16/5.
Drogheda United 1-1 Finn Harps
Doubtful: Conor Kane.
Injured: Adam Duffy.
Doubtful: Mark Coyle.
Suspended: Tommy McBride, Ciaran O’Connor.