Fifth-placed Derry City host third-placed Waterford at the Brandywell in a game with huge significance for both sides' European aspirations (kick-off 7:45 pm).
Kenny Shiels' City come into this game off the back of a record 12-2 away win against non-league Blarney United last Saturday in a FAI cup first round clash.
In-form Ally Roy netted four of the 12, while Ronan Hale got two on the night. They face St Patrick’s Athletic at home in the next round.
Derry's league form is a bit patchy, though. Two wins in their last five league games is the story, with the last of the five a 2-1 home defeat to Sligo Rovers.
The home side took a half-time lead through ex-Sligo man Jamie McDonagh but a goal each from David Cawley and Caolan McAleer in the last 20 minutes condemned Derry to their 13th defeat of the season.
Just five points separate the visitors to the Brandywell in third and City in fifth as the race for the third automatic European spot looks likely to go to the wire.
Speaking to his club’s official website ahead of the game, Shiels insisted that this was a game that would really test the home team’s mettle.
“The top two are out clear and Waterford are the team to catch after that,” he said.
“They’re having a fantastic season and are a terrific side so we know what we’re up against.
“Obviously they come here as favourites for the game but I want us to be ready to give our best for the supporters and for the city.
“We’ve come to a really vital part of our season now and I know the players and staff are gearing up for the challenge.”
A win for the Candystripes over Waterford tonight, coupled with Shamrock Rovers dropping points at home to Bohemians, would move them within two points of Alan Reynolds' men in the table.
Alan Reynold’s Blues come into this game off the back of a 4-1 away win to Skerries Town in the first round of the FAI cup.
A Noel Hunt hat-trick and a strike from Gavan Holohan put their side into the second round, where they will face an away tie with Drogheda United.
Like tonight’s counterparts, Waterford are currently enduring a bad spell in the league.
Three defeats in a row, and one point from their last 12, have seriously hindered their European aspirations.
A 2-1 home reversal to table-topping Cork City was endured on August 3rd, and followed on from defeats to Limerick and Shamrock Rovers, respectively.
Speaking to his club’s official website, Reynolds said he was happy with the cup win but that his charges' focus is back on the league.
“I was happy with the result (against Skerries) last weekend,£ said Reynolds.
“It was important that we approached it right and we did that and got the result. We’ll look forward to Drogheda in the next round but Derry is the focus now.
“We need to concentrate on our game and just play. Our performances of late in the league haven’t been bad, we just haven’t got results.
“Derry had a big win in their cup game last weekend so they’ll be full of confidence. But so are our lads – they’ve trained well and we’re raring to go.”
Following the bad spell they find themselves in currently, a positive result away to a fellow European-chasing team would be very welcome for Waterford and one would imagine it would give them a much needed boost heading into the last stretch of games.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
The sides have met each other 19 times competitively. Derry have won ten of those, Waterford have won eight and there has been one draw.
In those 19 games, there has been an average of 2.0 goals per game
From the other three league meetings this season, being at home has been pivotal. The Blues have won two (2-1) and 4-0) and Derry have won the other (1-0).
City now have more losses than wins in the league this season. They have a record of 12 wins, three draws, and 13 losses from 28 games.
Waterford have a league record of 13 wins, five draws, and ten defeats from 28 games played.
Waterford have a goal difference of +5, whereas Derry have a goal difference of -10.
Derry City 6/4; Draw 5/2; Waterford 8/5.
Derry City 1 – 1 Waterford
Injured: Nicky Low, Conor McDermott.
Doubtful: Eoin Toal.
Injured: Cory Galvin (knee), Derek Daly (groin), John Martin (ankle), Courtney Duffus.
Doubtful: Paul Keegan.