Galway United will be acutely aware that it is either win or lights out in terms of their outside chance of making the playoffs when they host Longford Town on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Anything other than a win for United will signal the end of a bitterly disappointing league campaign for the Dyke road outfit who, despite early-season optimism, have failed to live up to their favourites tag.
The Tribesmen's player-manager Alan Murphy declared his side must win their upcoming home clash against Longford if they are to harbour any hopes for a late-season play-off push.
“It’s a must-win game,” Murphy told the club’s media team.
“It’s a home game and we’ll be heading into it in a very positive light.
“The facts are, yes we fell apart a bit against Drogheda in the second half, but we’re unbeaten since the UCD game and we have to look at it that way.
“We’re going to be going into the Longford game with a very positive mindset, very much on the front foot, trying to create chances and bring the game to them.
“We’ve had a good week of training. It’s been positives vibes and the confidence is up after a good result in the FAI Cup.”
Murphy called on supporters to get behind the team, and he hopes the crowd will react well to a positive style of play at Éamonn Deacy Park.
“I’d hope that there will be a crowd out and a bit of a twelfth man factor in terms of getting the players confident and creating an atmosphere for us to get momentum on the night, so that we can play in a style that will be attractive and that our supporters can identify with.
“It’s a nice time of the season, it’s a must-win game and it’s nice to have it at home. The minimum requirement for any team that I send out on the pitch will be 90 minutes of endeavour and commitment and hard work.”
Conor Layng and Maurice Nugent both miss out through long-term injury issues while Gary Shanahan and player-manager Murphy are also side-lined.
In more positive news, Conor Melody returns to the fold after a brief spell in America.
Like Galway, Longford Town also travel to Deacy Park knowing it's win or bust in terms of their play-off aspirations for 2018.
After picking up a morale boosting back-to-back wins against near neighbours Athlone Town and Sligo Rovers, Neale Fenn's side have given themselves an outside chance.
De Town can really catapult themselves back into contention with a big win at Éamonn Deacy Park.
Currently fifth, just four points off Drogheda United and Shelbourne, a win could see Longford just go one point behind one of those playoff chasing sides in third and fourth.
Last time Longford met Galway United in the league, Fenn masterminded an epic 3-2 success over the then Shane Keegan managed Tribesmen with ten men.
Local youngster Aodh Dervin set the Red and Black on their way with a superb strike from distance. Sam Verdon and Karl Chambers sealed the three points despite being a man down.
Town have a decent enough recent record in Galway in years gone by as De Town have only fallen to defeat at Éamonn Deacy Park once in the last decade.
That loss came in 2015 as Tony Cousins side fell to a 4-2 defeat in the West.
Jamie Doyle returns to the fold following suspension.
Dean Byrne must sit out the game with a long-term injury, while Sam Verdon won’t feature after his injury in Sligo last week.
Referee: David Keeler.
Prior to Longford Town’s win in their last outing against Galway United, the previous four encounters between the pair of First Division rivals all resulted in tense draws.
Only six goals were scored over the course of 540 minutes in those six games.
Galway have amassed a total of 1.7 goals per game so far this season while they have conceded an average of 1.1 per game.
Despite their league position in fifth spot, Neale Fenn’s goal-hungry Longford Town lie fourth in the First Division goalscoring charts.
Only UCD, Drogheda and Shelbourne have scored more than De Town so far this season as defensive frailties have cost Fenn’s side a more secure spot in the play-off hunt.
Galway United 6/5; Draw 23/10; Longford Town 7/4.
Galway United 1-3 Longford Town
Injured: Conor Layng, Maurice Nugent, Gary Shanahan, Alan Murphy.
Injured: Sam Verdon, Dean Byrne.