In-form Shelbourne clash with top of the table UCD in a vital Dublin derby in the SSE Airtricity First Division at Tolka Park on Friday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Drumcondra faithful will be hoping their side can exploit an opportunity to close the gap at the top of the SSE Airtricity First Division and bolster their promotion prospects with victory over near neighbours UCD.
Shels continued their winning ways on Monday evening with a hard fought 1-0 away win over a dogged and determined Athlone Town at the Athlone Town Stadium in the 4th Round of the Leinster Senior Cup. Shane Farrell was the hero for the North Dublin side bagging the winning goal with just 5 minutes remaining on the clock to book Shels place in the semi-final.
Shelbourne have been on an excellent run of form lately with just one defeat in their last 11 competitive matches, with that defeat coming at the hands of Cabinteely (2-0) last month. Five league wins and 2 draws have seen Shels firmly in contention to challenge for a return to the promised land of the Premier Division.
Shels have also been quite prolific during this spell scoring 27 goals and have been airtight at the back having conceded just 8 goals and kept 6 clean sheets. Summer signing David O’Sullivan has been in scintillating form becoming Shels top scorer with 10 goals already to his name this season.
Shelbourne are currently sitting in 3rd place in the First Division on 17 points from their 9 league matches with 5 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats.
Shelbourne manager Owen Heary is not feeling overawed by the challenged posed by the Students and is upbeat about his sides chances saying to www.shelbournefc.ie, “We felt we were unlucky to leave the Bowl with nothing from the first game of the season. We had a number of good chances but just couldn’t put them away.”
Heary feels that Tolka Park has become more of a fortress compared to last season saying, “We’re strong at home – last year it was probably the opposite way around, we couldn’t really get a win at home and we were very good on the road.”
The former defender also feels that they possess the firepower and defensive discipline to earn a positive result. “We have a front three who can get chances and take chances so, it’s important that defensively we are strong and we’ve kept a fair few clean sheets now which is quite pleasing – it gives us a chance in every game.”
Shelbourne will have to make do without the services of Arran Molloy who is side-lined with a hamstring injury and top scorer David O’Sullivan who is unavailable due to a family commitment.
The Students will look to put further daylight between themselves and the chasing pack in the First Division by taking all three points with them back to the Southside.
UCD are hoping that some bouncebackability is on the cards for tomorrow evening after the disappointment of their 2-1 defeat and ultimate exit to Longford Town in the 4th Round of the Leinster Senior Cup on Monday night.
Despite taking the lead after 20 minutes courtesy of a strike from Ben Hanrahan, The Students failed to kick on after that and a double from Jackson Ryan in the second half completed the comeback which saw The Town book their place in the semi-final.
UCD have been on an impressive run of late apart from that blip with just one defeat in their 9 league matches so far – a 2-0 loss to Drogheda United.
UCD have been impressive going forward having found the net 22 times in their 12 matches and have shipped 14 goals having kept just 3 clean sheets so far this season.
Shelbourne and UCD have already met once on the opening day of the SSE Airtricity First Division with The Student edging out their rivals 2-1 in a tightly contested game in February.
Last season Shels and the Students met each other 4 times in the league with UCD winning the first game 4-0 at the UCD Bowl followed by a 1-0 victory at Tolka Park, Shelbourne then won the 3rd game 2-1 in Belfield. The final game ended in a 1-1 draw at Tolka Park.
The head to head record since 1995 has seen both sides meet on 57 occasions in all competitions with Shelbourne having the bragging rights with 29 wins to UCD’s 16 with 12 draws.
Shelbourne scored 87 goals averaging 1.53 goals per game with UCD scoring 62 goals averaging 1.09 goals per game.
Shelbourne 6/4 Draw 21/10 UCD 8/5
Shelbourne 2-1 UCD
Injured: Arran Molloy (hamstring)
Unavailable: David O’Sullivan