Third meets first in the Premier Division on Friday night, as high-flying Waterford welcomes top-of-the-table Dundalk to the Regional Sports Centre (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Blues got back to winning ways on Monday night after Courtney Duffus – on loan from Oldham Athletic – scored his sixth goal of the campaign to record a priceless 1-0 away win over Bohemians.
That result came after a disappointing draw with Sligo Rovers at the RSC just three days prior.
However, one positive to take from that match was the return of influential midfielder Bastien Hery, who had missed the previous three matches due to suspension following a well-documented red card and subsequent ban he received after pushing Cork City manager John Caulfield last month.
“It's a game that I'm really looking forward to. We were all a bit disappointed after the draw against Sligo because I don't think we played to our best,” said Hery ahead of the visit of Dundalk.
"We showed very good character on Monday to win at Bohs because that is a tough place to go and get a result. We were under pressure a lot in the second half but we defended superbly well and kept a clean sheet which will give us confidence going into this game against Dundalk.
“Dundalk are a very good team but we are unbeaten at the RSC. I think that's very important and I know that we'll get the crowd right behind us on Friday night. There is a great team spirit in the dressing room at the minute and we all want to do well for this club.”
Gavan Holohan and David Webster both return from suspensions for this game, but right-back John Kavanagh and Stanley Aborah (hamstring) both miss out through injury while Kenny Browne (back) and Derek Daly are both serious doubts to pass fit for Friday night’s big match.
Following their defeat at Cork City last week, the Lilywhites responded in the best possible way on Monday night, returning to the top of the table after putting five goals past St Patrick’s Athletic without reply.
Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell – who played a full 90 minutes in the league for the first time this season in that demolition of Pats – was pleased with his side’s quick response as they prepare for what is set to be a real test of their title credentials in Waterford.
“We have threats all over the pitch. We can score from anywhere and we are proving that. We are happy with our own performance and we were able to turn things around. We have so many games and it was good to have one so soon after the loss in Cork,” said O’Donnell.
“We were on a downer after that and then we had the win which picked us right up so it shows how quickly things can change in the league. We are able to make changes, the squad is strong and we can freshen things up. It’s good to have such a competitive squad and everyone plays their part.
“We have another massive game on Friday so we are ready for that. Waterford are big contenders. They aren’t in Europe either and that will be a big help to them and their preparation when the time comes around.
“They are a good side and they have started the season very well. They are going to be tough to beat down there. They have good players and we will have to be right at it on Friday. It’s going to be a difficult match for us but we will be ready and looking forward to it.”
Karolis Chvedukas (ankle) and Sean Gannon (fractured ribs) both remain on the treatment table for Dundalk while striker Sam Byrne (hamstring), who had to be taken off just four minutes after coming on as a substitute in Monday night’s win over St Pats, is also highly unlikely to feature.
Referee: Derek Tomney
A measure of how far both clubs have come in such a short space of time is that their last meeting at the RSC was a promotion/relegation play-off in which Dundalk emerged 2-0 winners, thanks to a brace from Michael Rafter in November 2012.
The only player from both line-ups that night to be still playing with their respective club is Dundalk stalwart Chris Shields, who has since racked up 168 league appearances for the Lilywhites.
These two have not faced each other in a Premier Division fixture at the RSC since April 1999 – Dundalk lost that match 2-0 and were subsequently relegated for the first time in their history.
Waterford 4/1; Draw 12/5; Dundalk 3/4
Waterford 1-1 Dundalk
Injured: John Kavanagh, Stanley Aborah.
Doubtful: Kenny Browne, Derek Daly.
Injured: Sean Gannon, Karolis Chvedukas.
Doubtful: Sam Byrne.