Shelbourne -v- Drogheda UnitedThu, Jul 19 2012
Alan Mathews side were soundly beaten last time these two sides met and the former Drogheda manager would love to get one over on his old employers.
Shels are only five points behind the second placed side and are having a good first season back in the top flight. The Reds have won their last two games and have netted seven goals in the process, putting four past Dundalk and then three past Bray. Philip Gorman has been on fire for the Dublin side, bagging three goals in those encounters.
But it’s a lack of consistency which has hampered Shels so far, those two wins were preceded by two back-to-back defeats. They have yet to put a run together of more than two wins.
Shelbourne, like Drogheda have been better away from home this season, they have only registered three wins in Dublin with three defeats and two draws.
Alan Mathews is taking a very pragmatic approach to the game, speaking ahead of the clash he said “We know we will have to produce a really top class performance to achieve the three points on offer, but I firmly believe that we have the players to take on any side this season, and we’ll into the game full of confidence.”
Barry Clancy will be missing for Shels, he is serving the last of a three week suspension. Glen Cronin is the only other absentee from the squad, he is recovering from an ankle injury.
With their 2-0 win away to St Pats at the weekend, Drogheda United not only put themselves into second in the table, but they became only the second side this season to win four games on the bounce. Table topping Sligo Rovers, the only other side to achieve this feat.
Mick Cooke’s side are undoubtedly the dark horses of the season. Debate’s are raging as to whether they are actual title contenders or not, but none of this has really filtered into the Drogs side. Speaking ahead of the game on Friday night the Boynesiders manager said, “It's nice to be where we are in the table, we will enjoy it as long as it lasts. We were hopeful of a point against Pats on Sunday, but to come away with three was excellent. And it gives us a nice bit of confidence.
There is no real talk of it (being in second) around the dressing room. The lads are coming to training and working hard, it's not something we want to focus on really. Everyone is really focused on the job at hand at the moment and we aren't getting ahead of ourselves, there is still a long way to go this season, nothing has been decided yet. ”
An interesting stat floating about is that Drogheda United and Sligo have exactly the same away form, which should give Drogheda the advantage at Tolka Park. They are currently unbeaten in five league games, seven if you count cup games.
Despite their form and position, Cooke isn’t going to take any game lightly and the Drogheda boos is under no illusions as to how tough they will have it on Friday. “It's never easy travelling to Shels, they are playing well at the moment and so are we, I reckon it should be the game of the night. But we are five games unbeaten now in the league and we just want to keep that run going. ”
On the injury front, Drogheda will be without Brian Gannon but Cooke will welcome back Stephen Quigley and Eric Foley from suspension. Ryan Brennan is the only other absentee, the midfielder was sent off against Pats on Sunday thus ruling himself out of this game.
Referee: Damien Hancock
Drogheda have kept three clean sheets in their last three competitive games while Shels have had only one shutout in their last five competitive games.
Drogheda United are unbeaten in seven matches
Shels have scored four more goals at Tolka than on the road, but they have won more games away from home
Shelbourne 17/10 Draw 12/5 Drogheda United 7/4
It’s hard to see Drogheda continuing their good form, which is why I expect Shels to come good 2-1 to the home side
Shelbourne injury news: Glen Cronin
Shelbourne suspension news: Barry Clancy
Drogheda injury news: Brian Gannon
Drogheda suspension news: Ryan Brennan
P.J. generally covers Drogheda games at HD Park and can generally be found at any Dublin ground when of a loose end on a Friday night.