UCD come into this game just one point behind Division leaders Waterford and as joint top scorers in the First Division, alongside Cobh Ramblers, with 13 strikes in their seven league matches to date.
Their only two defeats in 2017 have come against leaders Waterford (at home) and Cobh Ramblers (away) while their most recent outing saw them put four past Athlone Town at Belfield last Friday night.
Speaking to the club's website, manager Collie O’Neill expressed his satisfaction with the performance against the Midlands side.
“We played very well last week. We started extremely strong and were rewarded with Gary's goal. I was pleased with how we reacted to their equaliser, as we didn't panic and we got back on top quickly, and of course we were clinical with our chances”.
While O’Neill’s men are enjoying a positive season so far, the only time they have managed consecutive victories was in the opening two fixtures when they beat tonight’s opponents Cabinteely 1-0 at Stradbrook and then followed that up with a 4-0 hiding of Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
“I am pleased with how we've started the season”, said O’Neill. “We’ve picked up four victories and have played some excellent football at times. It is now down to us to continue to build on our form, however we have an extremely young side so we know we will have plenty of ups and downs throughout the season”.
O’Neill is in a similar position to Pat Devlin at Cabinteely, guiding a young team that is full of ability but perhaps lacking the experience that teaches a side how to grind out results over the longer term. Friday’s result will go some way towards indicating which of these two teams in better placed to compete for the only promotion place available this year.
Pat Devlin’s Cabinteely side have had a thoroughly good time in this season’s First Division and with seven games played they lie just outside the top half of the table and just four points shy of top spot.
A run of three wins and a draw ended last weekend when they went down 1-0 to Shelbourne at their Stradbrook home thanks to an 87th minute winner from Shels striker James English. The previous weekend they were also damaged by late goals when a potential 3-1 win over Athlone Town was transformed into a 3-3 draw after Cabo conceded twice in added time.
On Friday, Devlin’s men will be playing a team very like themselves. Both UCD and Cabinteely have youth and energy on their side but Devlin will be keen to eradicate the concentration lapses that allow late concessions to become a habit. Hard work comes easy to this group of players but this must be allied with mental resolve if Cabo are to make good on the promise which has characterised their recent performances.
Devlin’s only injury concern ahead of the game is defender Victor Ekanem, one of the squad’s more experienced players. Ekanem suffered a groin injury in the 4-1 win over Cobh Ramblers three weeks ago and hasn’t featured in any of the three games since then.
During Ekanem’s absence holding midfielder Christian Lotefa has deputised reasonably well at centre back but Cabinteely have kept just two clean sheets from their seven matches and the suspicion must be that they will need to score two or more against UCD if they want to claim the three points.
Referee: David Keeler
The last meeting between these teams took place on the opening weekend of the season when a goal from Simon Power gave UCD a 1-0 win at Stradbrook.
Since Cabinteely joined the league in 2015 they have played UCD nine times in the league and never beaten them. In fact they have lost eight of these encounters and drawn once.
The aggregate score from the nine league meetings between these teams is 21-3 to UCD.
UCD 4/7; Draw 13/5; Cabinteely 9/2.
UCD 2-1 Cabinteely
Injured: Gary O’Neill (groin), Simon Power (calf), Neil Farrugia (collar-bone).
Doubtful: Victor Ekanem (groin).