Sligo Rovers welcome league leaders Dundalk to the Showgrounds for a game rescheduled due to the Lilywhites’ Europa League commitments last month (kick-off 7.45pm).
In the battle to avoid the drop, Sligo moved eight points clear of second from bottom Limerick with a priceless 3-1 away win at the Markets Field on Friday night.
A brace from Michael Drennan coupled with a sublime effort by the evergreen Raffaele Cretaro saw the Bit O’ Red all but secured their Premier Division status for another season.
“I told the lads in the aftermath of the game that they deserve credit because all week it was said by them that they’d do the rest of their talking on the pitch and they did it,” manager Ger Lyttle told the club’s official website.
“For Mikey [Drennan] it was important to get the goals. They were coming and he was getting into the areas for chances. He had hit the woodwork and saves by the goalkeeper in the previous games.
“There’s no doubt in my mind those goals will continue to come as long as we provide the opportunities. He’ll take a lot from getting on the scoresheet last week.
“This is obviously a different challenge in facing a team at the top of the table, and we’re in no doubt it’s a really difficult game when you’re looking to turn home form around.
“But it’s also a good one to further challenge ourselves because I maintain our performances have been decent even in some of the defeats we’ve had.
“I want to put a smile of the face of the supporters given our record here by the lads going out there and continuing that message from the last week.
“They’re good enough to do that against any team in the league. I saw a real buzz about them in training on Sunday and hopefully we can bring that in from the first whistle on Monday night.”
Former Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Rhys McCabe was forced off with a knee injury after just half-an-hour on Friday night and is rated as a serious doubt to play against Dundalk.
Caolan McAleer missed that match completely, although his shoulder injury is not as bad as first feared, while defender Gary Boylan, who hasn’t played since June, remains a long-term absentee.
The Lilywhites returned to the top of the table with two games in hand, following their 12th league win in a row after beating Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday.
Patrick Hoban scored his 23rd goal of the campaign before Robbie Benson made it two. Jake Kelly pulled one back for the hosts but Dylan Connolly made the points safe with about 15 minutes to go.
“It was three points which we wanted. We wanted to go back top of the table and that is what we got,” said goalkeeper Gary Rogers after that win.
“We could have made things a bit easier for ourselves but we got the job done in the end. We wanted to get the win and we did that
“We were disappointed with the goal that we conceded and it probably made the game that little bit more difficult for us but we had to dig in and fight for that little spell.
“That third goal settled us and we were able to see it out then. Every game is tough in this league. There is no complacency. Everyone deserves the same respect.
“Each time in this league is capable of hurting you and each team can beat anyone. You can see that every week with different games – Bray made a game of it in the second half.
“There are no easy games in the league and each week is a different challenge. We knew we were going to have a difficult game against Bray.
“That is how it turned out but we are delighted to have won the three points. We are going to have a real tough game in Sligo tomorrow. We have to prepare properly and go there to win.
“They have won their last two league games – beat Derry and Limerick. They will be confident going into the game against us.
“They have played quite well recently. They have good players. They are a good side and they always give us a difficult game.
“Monday will be no different but we have to go about our business and try to get another win.”
Dundalk have no fresh injury concerns coming into this match with Stephen O’Donnell, who has been out since May, being the only definite absentee. Karolis Chvedukas and Dean Jarvis are doubts.
Referee: Ben Connolly
Gary Rogers is the only player from either side to have played for both clubs – he kept goal more than 100 times for the Bit O’Red, picking league championship, FAI Cup and Setanta Cup medals in the process.
Monday night marks the 228th competitive meeting between Dundalk and Sligo Rovers. The Lilywhites have emerged victorious on 105 of those occasions, while Sligo have won 71 times since their first encounter in 1934.
Sligo Rovers have not recorded a home win against Dundalk since they thrashed the Lilywhites 3-0 en route to the league title in September 2012 – Mark Quigley, Gavin Peers and Liam Buchanan all scored that night.
Sligo Rovers 7/1; Draw 7/2; Dundalk 2/5
Sligo Rovers 0-2 Dundalk
Injured: Caolan McAleer, Gary Boylan.
Doubtful: Rhys McCabe.
Injured: Stephen O’Donnell.
Doubtful: Karolis Chvedukas, Dean Jarvis.