League Play-Off Preview: Shelbourne -v- Drogheda United

Sun, Oct 07 2018

James English with the winner for Shels in the first leg Credit: Paul Dolan

Hoping to extend their season by another few weeks at least, Owen Heary’s Shelbourne have a one-goal lead to protect at Tolka Park when they host Drogheda United in the second leg of their first-round clash in the relegation/playoff series on Monday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).

SHELBOURNE 

Taking a priceless one goal lead to Tolka Park where they have been so impressive this term, Owen Heary’s promotion hunting Reds will be looking to set up a clash with Finn Harps come Friday evening if they can overcome Drogheda United. 

James English scored the winner at United Park in the first leg after he saw his header fly into the roof of Paul Skinner’s net after a devilish delivery into the box by set-piece specialist Lorcan Fitzgerald just before the half-hour mark. 

The match-winner English hobbled off injured late on as Gavin Boyne took his place in the 93rdminute as Shels held out for a massive win on Boyneside – their first victory there since 2015. 

There was also further injury concerns for Owen Heary’s side as Aidan Collins landed awkwardly just after the start of the second half as his fellow teammate Reece McEnteer stepped up to the mark for the Reds. 

The result secured Shelbourne’s second win over Drogheda United this year after their 7-2 mauling of Tim Clancy’s side in the EA Sports Cup at the Drumcondra venue. 

In terms of team news for Shels, David Mulcahy misses out on the game with injury along with  Aidan Collins, while the ever-impressive James English is rated as doubtful following his late knock against the Co. Louth side. 

 

DROGHEDA UNITED 

With their collars firmly pinned against the wall, Drogheda United will certainly know that it is either win or bust at Tolka Park on Monday evening as they seek to right the wrongs of Friday evening’s defeat at United Park. 

One man returning to the dugout on the Richmond Road venue is Kevin Doherty who previously enjoyed an 18-month spell as manager with Shels which ended in June 2016. 

Doherty will oversee his sides performance on Monday evening as manager Tim Clancy and Director of Football Dave Robertson will both be confined to the stands after a recent suspension for the pair. 

In the 2018 regulation First Division season, Drogheda took four points off of Shelbourne on the road, more than any other side, as two late Sean Brennan strikes secured a vital few points for the Boynesiders on their successful march to the playoffs. 

In terms of team news for Drogheda, the first-team management will not have any suspension issues to contend with while it is expected that the managerial double act of Tim Clancy and Kevin Doherty will be able to head into battle on Monday night with no injuries, like Friday’s clash at United Park.   

Referee:Tomas Connolly.

MATCH STATS

In the last seven league games between these pair of fierce promotion rivals, there has not been over 2.5 goals scored. The last time there was over 2.5 goals scored in this clash was all the way back in 2016 as the Drogs succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at Tolka Park before they secured promotion back to the Premier Division later that season. 

Sean Brennan scored in each of the three league games between Tim Clancy’s side and Owen Heary’s Reds so far this season. Two of his strikes have come from the penalty spot while his third, and perhaps most significant one came from a set-piece as Drogs secured a dramatic 1-0 win at Tolka Park in July.

Shelbourne had the second-best home record of all of the sides in this year’s edition of the First Division with only the champions UCD boasting a better point tally while Drogheda have the third best away record of all sides in 2018 version of the second tier. 

BETTING

Shelbourne 4/5; Draw 5/2; Drogheda United 11/4.

PREDICTION

Shelbourne 2-1 Drogheda United 

Shelbourne 

Injured:David Mulcahy, Aidan Collins.

Doubtful:James English.

Suspended:None.

Drogheda United 

Injured:None.

Doubtful:None.

Suspended:None.