City Calling Stadium will host of a tantalising Midlands El Clasico as Longford Town know it's win or bust in terms of their playoff hopes when they take on near neighbours Athlone Town (kick-off 7.30pm)
After slaying champions elect UCD at the UCD Bowl on June 29th, results have not gone the way that many would have hoped for as De Town have slumped in recent games following their statement win in Dublin 4.
Since then, Longford Town have only picked up one win in a pretty poor July which has seen Neale Fenn’s side crash out of the title race.
Damaging defeats at home to Cobh Ramblers and away to Finn Harps and Shelbourne has seen the Red and Black of the Midlands slump to sixth, seven points off the play-off spots.
The noises emanating from within the Longford Town camp suggest that they are primed for a late playoff push which could yet see some extra action and drama at City Calling Stadium.
Neale Fenn’s charges know that they must put in an improved display from last weekend’s defeat at Tolka Park, which saw De Town falter in the final 20 minutes.
Some questionable calls clearly left Fenn and his backroom staff irate with the officials at Tolka Park, which culminated in a lengthy stand-off between the former Cork City playmaker and the referee at the end of the game as Daire Doyle was sent to the stands following Shelbourne’s third goal.
The recently-signed striker from Shelbourne Jamie Doyle will sit out the game with suspension while long-term absentee Dean Byrne miss out with a serious injury he picked up in June.
Playing for nothing more than pride at this stage of the season, Athlone Town will be looking to garner up some much-needed momentum ahead of their FAI Cup clash at Shelbourne next week.
Now 39 games without a win on the field, Athlone Town will be acutely that they are unlikely to pull themselves off of bottom spot in the First Division.
While recent signs at the club suggest times are ever so slowly changing for the better, it will be a long time before Athlone Town will be back among the top table of League of Ireland football after the years of dissent among the support of the country’s oldest professional club.
One man who has certainly impressed this year at Athlone Town is keeper Darcy Lawless who has played many superb games for his hometown club.
While not keeping a clean sheet as of yet, the 20-year-old shot stopper has certainly received plenty of plaudits for his heroics since coming into the first-team squad.
Athlone have not released any team news for Saturday’s game as Ciaran Grogan is the only known absentee having picked up a recent suspension.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
In the last six games between these pair of Midlands rivals, there has been a remarkable 31 goals scored in 540 minutes.
That statistic means that a goal has been scored once in every seventeen and a half minutes during this provincial local derby since last year.
Athlone have, after the departure of Aaron Callaghan in May, improved in their recent games under the stewardship of Terry Butler.
However the First Division’s basement side's last win in the First Division came a remarkable 456 days ago on the pitch.
Athlone are yet to pick up a point away from home so far this season. Their only two points on the field have come at home against Finn Harps and Longford Town in two one-one draws respectively.
Longford Town 1/25; Draw 10/1; Athlone Town 30/1.
Longford Town 2-0 Athlone Town
Injured: Dean Byrne.
Suspended: Jamie Doyle.
Suspended: Ciaran Grogan.