Ninth plays eighth as Bohemians welcome injury hit Finn Harps to Dalymount Park in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division (kick off 7.45 pm).
Bohs have been turning some good performances of late but injuries to the Phibsboro club's strikeforce have meant those overall positive displays have not translated into points on the board.
Manager Keith Long is frustrated with his side’s four match losing run.
“Past performances count for nothing,” Long told the club's website.
“We’ve done okay in some of those games but that’s immaterial now. We need to turn good performances into results and develop a winning mentality.”
Bohs have netted just once since top scorer Dinny Corcoran was injured on St. Patrick’s Day and Ismahil Akinade has been a long-term absentee. Long refuses to use these absences as an excuse.
“That’s the hand we’ve been dealt. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve still no recognised out-and-out centre-forward, so the goals are going to have to come from elsewhere.”
Long is also perplexed by some defensive frailties that have cost the men in red and black: “We have to get better collectively from a defensive perspective. We want to be a team nobody wants to play against.
“But we are positive too and I think that will be seen in how we approach the game. It’s going to be a difficult one – Finn Harps have done very well on the road this year. But we are determined to go out and do what it takes to get the win.”
There was no respite for Bohs’ league woes in their recent EA Sports Cup and Leinster Senior Cup encounters. The injury crisis led to Long fielding weakened line-ups in their matches against Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne.
Long was dissatisfied with the manner of the 3-0 loss to Shelbourne in the Leinster Senior Cup on Monday.
“Obviously, we want to move up in the league, that has to be our priority. We don’t necessarily have the squad to play three games in eight days either.
“We used the games in the League Cup as an opportunity to play younger players and players around the first team lacking game-time.
“It was the same in the Leinster Senior Cup on Monday, although Shels chose to play their first team.
“I was disappointed with our performance. We have a tight squad and you can’t be feeling sorry for yourself that you’re not in the first team.
“Monday was a chance for players to scream at us that they should be in the team every week, but we didn’t have that from enough of them.”
Finn Harps will make the trip to Dublin with Ollie Horgan likely to be forced to field a few players who are less than 100% fit.
Horgan is characteristically generous about the opposition. “I believe Bohemians are in a false position at the moment and won’t be in the relegation battle right at the end of the season.
“They have the experience of Lorcan Fitzgerald and Derek Pender. For me, Shane Supple is the best keeper in the league and then there is the likes of Jamie Doyle who is a very fine player.”
Harps tale of injury woe continues with Danny Morrissey, Ciaran O’Connor, Jonny Bonner, B.J. Banda, Packie Mailey, Harry Doherty, Eddie Dsane, Barry Molloy and Paddy McCourt all still receiving treatment.
“We’re no better than last week really,” bemoans Ollie Horgan. “The reality is we have to put a team out. Paddy McCourt and Barry Molloy didn’t train during the week so I’m just hoping that we can patch them up for Friday night.”
Although not 100% fit, Paddy McCourt played against Drogheda last week. Harps had some periods of territorial dominance, particularly in the second half. McCourt created a number of openings, all of which Harps spurned in a 2-0 home loss.
Just like his Bohemians counterpart, Ollie Horgan dismisses any suggestion of using the casualty list as mitigation.
“It’s well documented the number of injuries we have had recently but I didn’t use that as an excuse for the manner of our defeat to Drogheda last Friday night.
“That performance was just not good enough. And if we don’t up it a good bit Bohemians will leave us going home with nothing.”
Finn Harps away form is better than their home form, with the Donegal side having picked-up seven of their 11 points to date away from Finn Park.
Referee: Graham Kelly.
Bohemians and Finn Harps have played each other 74 times in the League of Ireland. Bohemians have won 40 of those games, Harps 14 and there have been 13 draws. At Dalymount Park, Bohemians have won 16 games, Harps six and there have been three draws.
Bohemians’s last home league victory over Finn Harps was a 2-0 success in August 2016. Second half goals from Jake Kelly and Ismahil Akinade gave Bohs all three points on that occasion.
Harps did win the last league encounter between the sides, with Ryan Curran scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory at the end of the season at Finn Park.
Bohemians: last five league games WLLLL
Finn Harps: last five league games WLLWL
Bohemians 11/10; Draw 23/10; Finn Harps 5/2.
Bohemians 1 - 1 Finn Harps
Injured: Dinny Corcoran, Ismahil Akinade, Eoin Wearen.
Injured: Danny Morrissey, Jonny Bonner, Harry Doherty, Packie Maiiley, B.J. Banda, Ciaran O’Connor.
Doubtful: Paddy McCourt, Barry Molloy, Eddie Dsane.