Garry Comerford 90' + 4' -
A second top-of-the-table clash in as many weeks takes place at Oriel Park on Friday night when Dundalk welcome high-flying Waterford to Oriel Park.
Following last week’s win over Cork City, the Lilywhites were brought back down to earth with a bang at Richmond Park on Monday night, after being held to a scoreless draw by St Patrick’s Athletic.
One positive outcome from that match however, was that Gary Rogers managed to keep a fifth clean sheet in succession and the veteran goalkeeper is poised to make his 500th career league appearance in Friday’s game against Waterford.
“It’s similar to every other appearance really,” said Rogers, who is to become only the third keeper after Alan O’Neill and Jim Grace in League of Ireland history to reach the landmark.
“I prepare the same way and it’s another game at the end of the day but it’s a nice number to reach. I didn’t envisage getting to this stage to be honest but it has been great.
“I have enjoyed it. I am enjoying my football at the minute. I have been lucky enough to play in a lot of good defences and in goal for a lot of good teams. This has been no different, I have kept a lot of clean sheets which has been fantastic for me and my confidence.
“It has been a mixed bag to start the season. We are a little bit frustrated that we haven’t scored as many goals as we can. We have got the defence spot on. We got the eight goals against Limerick and one last week but I think it will come.
“There’s too much quality in this squad for it not to come and I think if we can keep it defensively sound, like we have done so far, then the goals will come and hopefully they start tonight against a good Waterford side.”
Dundalk have a full complement of players to choose from ahead of the visit of Waterford, with John Mountney returning to the squad after recovering from a knee injury picked up in pre-season.
The Blues continued their dream start to life in the Premier Division on Monday night with a 1-0 victory over Bohemians at the RSC – a result which saw Waterford go three points ahead of Dundalk coming into this fixture.
“We spoke in the dressing room after the Bohs game that momentum now is in our favour,” said manager Alan Reynolds.
“It is a great group of lads and their drive to push this club onto the next level is second to none.
“We have watched Dundalk now on a couple of occasions so we’ll set-up accordingly but we’ll have to be wary as well of managing our squad with the games coming thick and fast.
“There were a lot of tired bodies at full-time on Monday so recovery this week has been crucial to give everyone the opportunity to play again tomorrow night.”
Reynolds, once upon a time Stephen Kenny’s assistant at Derry City, is without defender Rory Feely after he was forced off during the first half of the win over Bohs, while Ismahil Akinade and Bastien Hery are both doubtful for the trip to Dundalk.
“We hope to have Izzy Akinade back involved following his groin injury but we’ll assess that ahead of kick-off and with Bastien Hery as well, who is 50/50 at this stage following his knock picked up v Sligo Rovers.
“We are all looking forward to the challenge tomorrow night. We have prepared well and are ready to go.”
Referee: Robert Harvey
Assuming he features, Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers will make his 500th appearance in the League of Ireland, the first of which came for St Francis against Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds in October 2000.
Incredibly, Dundalk and Waterford have not faced each other in a Premier Division fixture since April 1999 – the Lilywhites lost that match 2-0 at the RSC and were subsequently relegated for the first time in their history.
Should the Lilywhites prevent Waterford from scoring on Friday night, then it would represent the first time since the 1981/82 season that Dundalk have kept clean sheets in each of their opening six league matches.
Dundalk 2/5; Draw 10/3; Waterford 13/2
Dundalk 1-0 Waterford
Injured: Rory Feely.
Doubtful: Ismahil Akinade, Bastien Hery.