The Lilywhites are looking for their second home win of the week when they welcome a Finn Harps side that are rooted at the bottom of the SSE Airtricity League to Oriel Park this Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Dundalk undeservedly recorded a last-gasp 1-0 win over Bohemians at the same venue on Monday night thanks to a 95th-minute penalty from Patrick Hoban – his fifth goal of the new season.
“It was a good win for us on Monday,” said Dundalk’s First Team Coach John Gill. “We were up against it. Bohemians are a young, fit team. They were very good and we rode our luck a little bit at times but we got the break and we will take it.
“It has been a difficult couple of weeks but they are a great bunch of lads. It’s a great squad and we are delighted with the win.”
Last season’s double-winners were boosted by the return of Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields, who both returned from their respective injuries to come off the substitutes bench in that win over Bohs.
“Getting Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields back gave everyone a lift. We knew that we would run into some difficulty with the lads out but we have them back now,” continued Gill.
“We have faith in what we are doing, we had to dig out results and we made positive substitutions. It helped us win the game and we will take the win.”
Dundalk’s attention now switches to Harps, who held them to a 1-1 draw in Ballybofey earlier in the campaign which should ensure that nothing is taken for granted ahead of their next meeting.
“We will have a tough game against Finn Harps. They drew with us up in Finn Park and they will come here and will be hard to beat.
“The onus is on us to take the game to them. We are taking it one game at a time and then we will focus on the other games. We are looking forward to the game and we want to get the three points.”
Vinny Perth’s side – now ten points behind top spot – will again have to do without the injured trio of Robbie Benson (broken leg), Stephen Folan (knee) and Sean Murray (groin) for the visit of Harps.
Stuck at the bottom of the Premier Division with just two points from their opening 11 matches, winless Finn Harps are in desperate need of victories in order to avoid being cut adrift at the bottom.
Following back-to-back draws at home to Dundalk and away at St Patrick’s Athletic in February, Ollie Horgan’s side have since gone on a barren run, which has seen them lose eight consecutive matches.
Things don’t get any easier for the Donegal outfit as they now travel to face last season’s champions Dundalk at Oriel Park – a ground in which the club hasn’t recorded any kind of victory since 2006.
“We’ll be up against it in Dundalk tomorrow night. That win against Bohs on Monday night sets them up nicely so we’ll really need to be at the top of our game to cope with their attacking threat at Oriel Park,” said Horgan.
“Overall, they might not be going as well as expected but they are still a top side. Our lads are all set to go again and will be doing everything they can to get a result at Oriel Park.
“Conceding early would leave us chasing the game and against a team of Dundalk’s pedigree, that would be very difficult for us.
“We trained well on Monday and Tuesday and the lads are determined to keep plugging away in the belief that positive results will start happening for us.
“As I said after the Bohemians game on Friday, everyone at the club has to put their shoulder to the wheel to try and get us up and running.
“Some people weren’t that pleased when I said on the night we were promoted down at the Markets Field that Finn Harps were facing a monumental challenge in terms of competing, with limited resources, against the other teams in the Premier Division.
“I think now the reality of my comments back in Limerick is donning on everyone but there is a lot of goodwill towards Finn Harps and hopefully now we can repay that with a result in Dundalk.
“The standard in the Premier Division has definitely improved from when we were last there in 2017. It is a massive step up from the First Division.
“But, it’s great to be playing against the sides like Dundalk and our lads are looking forward to giving it a right good go at Oriel Park tomorrow night.”
Colm Deasy is serving the second of his four-match suspension. Harry Ascroft, Jacob Borg, Sean Boyd, Gareth Harkin and Mark Timlin are all definite absentees while Raffaele Cretaro is doubtful.
Referee: Robert Harvey.
With 68 goals from 106 appearances, Patrick Hoban is now just a single goal away from equalling the legendary Joey Donnelly’s long-standing record haul of League of Ireland goals for Dundalk.
Finn Harps haven’t beaten Dundalk since 2007 when they defeated the Lilywhites 2-0 in a promotion/relegation play-off at Finn Park. It’s 2006 since they last recorded a win at Oriel Park.
The two clubs have faced each other a total of 82 times since their first ever meeting in 1969. Dundalk have won 32 of those matches, Finn Harps have won 29 and there have also been 21 draws.
Dundalk 1/7; Draw 6/1; Finn Harps 20/1
Dundalk 2-0 Finn Harps
Injured: Robbie Benson, Stephen Folan, Sean Murray.
Injured: Harry Ascroft, Jacob Borg, Sean Boyd, Gareth Harkin, Mark Timlin.
Doubtful: Raffaele Cretaro.
Suspended: Colm Deasy.