Promotion-chasing Shelbourne take on the challenge of Finn Harps in a vital clash in the SSE Airtricity First Division at Tolka Park on Friday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
Shelbourne will look to maintain pace with the chasing pack behind league leaders UCD with a win over fellow promotion contenders Finn Harps.
Shels need to pick themselves up after suffering a heavy 7-3 defeat in the 3rd round of the EA Sports Cup at the hands of Derry City at the Brandywell last Monday evening.
Shels found themselves 2-0 behind after 16 minutes but battled back to 2-2 thanks to a brace from top scorer David O’Sullivan.
The Candystripes stunned their opponents with three goals in a six-minute spell to lead 5-2 at the break which saw Ronan Curtis completed his hat-trick.
A late James English strike put some respectability on the scoresheet. However, Shels' joy was short lived with Derry rubbing salt in the wounds with two further goals from Nicky Low and Nathan Boyle.
Shelbourne had come off the back of a decent 1-1 draw with SSE Airtricity First Division front runners UCD last Friday evening at Tolka Park.
Shels will feel they spurned a glorious opportunity to close the gap at the top as they led 1-0 early in the second half courtesy of English only for a last gasp equaliser from Gary O’Neill to burst the Drumcondra faithful’s bubble.
The loss to Derry City was just Shels' second defeat in 13 competitive matches with eight wins and three draws in the remaining matches. The 7-3 loss was their biggest losing margin of the season so far.
Shelbourne are currently in fifth place in the SSE Airtricity First Division with 18 points from their ten league matches with five wins, three draws and two defeats.
Shelbourne boss Owen Heary will continue to be without the services of Aidan Collins, who is side-lined with a shoulder injury, but has no suspensions for this week.
Finn Harps will look to make it five league wins on the spin when they make the long journey from the North East to the capital tomorrow evening.
The Harps will be buoyed up by their hard fought 1-0 win over promotion favourites Galway United last Monday evening at Ballybofey thanks to a 90th minute winner from Jesse Devers.
That made it four wins in a row and put Harps firmly in the driving seat in the race to catch UCD at the top of the SSE Airtricity First Division.
This result came off the back of another resilient display over a dogged Drogheda United at Ballybofey with a 2-1 win last Friday evening.
Harps went 1-0 behind to a Sean Brennan goal but produced a resounding performance in the second half to turn things around with goals from Keith Cowan and Ciaran O'Connor.
Finn Harps have been in excellent recent form with league wins over Cabinteely, Longford Town, Drogheda United and Galway United.
Harps have lost just three of their last 13 matches in all competitions, including a narrow 2-1 defeat to Derry City in the EA Sports Cup in Ballybofey and a 3-2 defeat to UCD at the UCD Bowl.
“Listen we’re very happy to get six points from the two games over last weekend against Drogheda and Galway,” manager Ollie Horgan told the club's website.
“People probably didn’t expect us to get the better of Galway when you had to consider we had to make four or five changes from the Drogheda game.
“Toward the end of the Galway game we would have settled for a draw but then Jesse got a terrific goal to win it for us. I suppose the ‘rub of the green’ went our way over the weekend.
“We have to have our heads right for tomorrow night because this is a very good Shelbourne side. There will be more pressure on them to deliver at home and we need to be up for that challenge.
“Concentration from the start is key as we need to settle quickly as Shels is going to come at us.”
Horgan got a welcome boost with the return of Sam Todd and Michael O’Connor from suspension but has a host of injuries to contend with.
Gareth Harkin, Liam Walsh, Mark Timlin and Adam Duffy miss out, while Paddy McCourt and Ciaran Coll are doubtful.
Referee: Adriano Reale
Shelbourne and Finn Harps have met each other once so far in the SSE Airtricity First Division with the sides sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Ballybofey, with David O’Sullivan cancelling out Michael O’Sullivan’s early strike.
Shelbourne and Finn Harps have met each other 41 times in all competitions since 1996 with Shels having the better record with 18 wins to Harps 12, with 11 draws.
Shelbourne have scored 62 goals, averaging 1.51 per game, and Finn Harps scored 41 goals, averaging a goal per game.
Shelbourne evens; Draw 11/5; Finn Harps 23/10.
Shelbourne 2-1 Finn Harps
Injured: Aidan Collins.
Injured: Gareth Harkin, Liam Walsh, Mark Timlin, Adam Duffy.
Doubtful: Paddy McCourt, Ciaran Coll.