UCD will be hoping to pull away from the foot of the Airtricity League Premier Division table when they welcome Derry City to the Belfield Bowl on Friday evening. The Students find themselves rooted to the bottom of the standings following the withdrawal of Monaghan United coupled with the improved recent form of Dundalk.
Martin Russell’s side have just ten points on the board and eight of those have come at the Bowl but the College did manage to earn a credible draw earlier in the season at the Brandywell. Having said that, their recent record against the Candystripes is less than impressive with Derry undefeated in the last ten meeting between the sides.
UCD have been unlucky at times this season as many of their performances have merited better results but slack defending and a failure to convert chances have meant they are bottom of the form ladder. Speaking to ucdsoccer.com, manager Martin Russell feels his sides’ luck will change and his players will begin to grind out results.
“Our last game out against Dundalk was disappointing in so far as we probably deserved to get more out of the game. I was very happy with our level of play and felt we really should have got something more than a point from the game. The difference between losing and drawing, and drawing and winning is so slight that we really need to start taking our chances.”
Their bad luck with injuries hasn’t helped the cause with several of their key players being sidelined for long periods. Despite the mid- season break allowing time for recuperation and time off, the Students still seem to be affected by absences.
“We have suffered from injuries that have restricted my ability to name a full strength squad, but that is also a positive as it gives everyone in the squad a chance. It is up to our players to take that chance when it comes along.” Russell added.
Striker Graham Rusk has found the net seven times this season already but continues to be a big loss for the college as he is side-lined with a knee injury while ‘keeper Ger Barron remains in the treatment room with a toe complaint. Chris Mulhall and David O’Connor are both doubts but should take their place in the squad while Mark Langtry is unavailable due to college course commitments.
The Candystripes will be looking to put a bad restart to the season behind them when they travel to Belfield. Declan Devine’s side have struggled in recent games and like Friday’s opponents, have seen key players miss chunks of the campaign through injury.
Since the mid-season break, the Foylesiders have thrown away a two goal lead at Cork, been knocked out of the League Cup and well beaten at home by Drogheda. They find themselves in fifth place and twelve points behind leaders Sligo but will be confident of picking up three points in the capital considering their recent record over the Students.
Derry are undefeated in their last 12 meetings with UCD while they have come out on top at the on three of the last five league clashes at the Belfield Bowl.
Speaking ahead of the game Devine said, “After a bad restart to the league campaign since the summer break, we would be happy just to keep a clean sheet at the minute, we need to keep our minds focused and cut out the silly mistakes that we have been making of late, the lads know that we need to be more ruthless in front of gaol as well as at the back.
“We go to U.C.D knowing that this is where we need to start over again. We expect a hard test tomorrow night against a team that have had good results against Sligo and Shamrock Rovers of late and any team that can cause teams like them problems are not to be taken lightly.”
Derry will have to do without Kevin Deery (knee) and Brian McGroary (ankle) while Mark Farren and Stewart Greacen are also sidelined. There are also doubts over the fitness of Gerard Doherty, Ruaidhrí Higgins, Patrick McEleney and Rory Patterson.
Referee: James McKell
Derry City are undefeated in their last 10 matches against UCD in all competitions.
UCD have failed to win 12 of their last 13 matches in Airtricity League.
Derry City have scored at least 2 goals in their last 5 away matches against UCD in all competitions.
UCD 23/10, Draw 9/4, Derry 11/10
It will be a close game but Derry should have the quality to come through. 2-0 Derry
UCD Injury News: Graham Rusk (Knee), Ger Barron (Toe), Chris Mulhall (Doubtful), David O’Connor (Illness- doubtful), Mark Langtry (unavailable)
UCD Suspension News: None.
Derry City Injury News: Kevin Deery (Knee), Mark Farren (Hamstring), Stewart Greacen (Hamstring), Brian McGroary (Ankle), Gerard Doherty, Ruaidhrí Higgins, Patrick McEleney, Rory Patterson (all doubtful)
Derry City Suspension News: None.