Seventh-placed Derry City play host to runners-up Cork City at the Brandywell for the last time this season (kick-off 7:45 pm).
Derry City manager Kenny Shiels hopes for a big crowd for his charge’s last home of the season on Friday night.
Away ties at Bray Wanderers on Monday and St Pat’s next Friday will complete the Brandywell club’s schedule for 2018 and one would think that only a win against the Leesiders will suffice if Derry are to finish in fifth place in the league standings, ahead of Bohemians and St Pat’s.
“I sincerely hope that our supporters turn out in good numbers for this one as that could make a real difference”, Shiels told derrycityfc.net on Thursday afternoon.
The Candystripes ended a run of five consecutive league defeats with their 1-0 defeat of Limerick last week before the international break, and having targeted wins in each of their last four matches, the former Kilmarnock boss will be well aware that this game against the outgoing champions is as tough as it gets.
“I expect Cork to start with near enough their cup final team. Our style of play isn’t a million miles away from Dundalk’s so they will see that as good preparation. It also means it will be a really tough game for us but we’re desperate to finish our home programme on a high.”
The Derry boss also confirmed that the club is in contract discussions with the current squad whose deals are expiring when the season is concluded.
In terms of team news for the hosting of Cork City, both Dan Seaborne and Gavin Peers are carrying knocks and are deemed doubtful for the game. Conor McDermott is the only definitely absentee.
As mentioned, the Derry players will be looking to put in a serious shift for the final three games, in order to secure a contract for next season. Therefore, a big performance is expected from the club on Friday night in front of their fans.
Cork City come into the game on the back of two home wins last week, as they booked their place in the FAI Cup final thanks to a 2-1 win over Bohemians in a replay and that was followed by a 3-0 defeat of Limerick in the league last Friday night. City’s last away fixture saw a much-changed side secure a 0-0 draw away to Shamrock Rovers.
Speaking at his press conference ahead of the game, City boss John Caulfield expects to make a few changes, with a couple of his younger players vying for a start or an appearance. He also has one eye on the November 4th FAI Cup final showdown with Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium.
“We will be making a change or two from last Friday’s game. We still have our own internal targets to hit, and we are looking forward to the game. Ronan Hurley has done very well in the last two games and it has been great for him, so it looks like we might give him another start. Cian Murphy will travel with us as well, as will Pierce Phillips and Shane Daly-Bütz.
“The game time the lads are getting is good and they know that everything is up for grabs for the Cup final, so that is good for us. I think the condition of a lot of the lads is very good; there are a few guys who have niggles and knocks, and it is a case of balancing that and getting them right.”
With their disappointing league season coming to a conclusion, one would imagine that Caufield and co will want their men finishing the season as strongly as possible, with three wins from their last three fixtures letting Dundalk know they are still a seriously strong outfit who will be looking to regain their title next year, as well be in form for the Cup final in two weeks time.
Referee: Damien MacGraith
Both sides have met each other 51 times in all competitions. Cork have won 24 of those, Derry winning ten, while there has been 17 draws.
There has been an average of 2.3 goals per game in those 51 previous ties.
Derry’s last home game was a 1-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers on September 22nd.
This will be the fourth and final meeting of the sides this season, and it is John Caulfield’s side that have the better record going into the tie.
They have won both meetings at Turner’s Cross, 4-2 in June and 5-0 in July, while the previous game between the sides at the Brandywell resulted in a scoreless draw in May.
Derry’s last five league games- WLLLL
Cork’s last five league games- WDLLL
Derry City 11/4; Draw 11/4; Cork City 5/6
Derry City 1-1 Cork City
Injured: Conor McDermott.
Doubtful: Dan Seaborne, Gavin Peers.
Injured: Colm Horgan, Jonny Dunleavy, Steven Beattie.
Doubtful: Karl Sheppard, Alan Bennett.
Suspended: Conor McCormack.