Athlone Town boss Terry Butler wants his team to rise to the challenge when they take on league leaders Shelbourne at Lissywollen on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
“I’d expect the lads to step-up and it’ll be a really good competitive game,” said Butler.
“The funny thing is some of the games against Shelbourne and the bigger teams like Longford Town, the bigger crowd, the players are lifting their game for them.”
Shels travel to Athlone with the home side having lost last time out 2-1 to Cobh Ramblers.
Butler admitted the side’s lack of experience has cost them wins across the board this season.
“When you give away goals against Cabinteely in the 93rd minute, the hand ball, the penalty that should have been given against Limerick.”
“That’s seven or nine points game make a huge difference, like we would have been in the middle of the table” commented butler
“I think we can finish in the top half of the table” commented Butler, “We’ve a very young team so it’s a learning curve with these players.”
Shelbourne will look to extend their five-point lead at the top of the table when they travel to face Athlone Town.
Shels were held to a 1-1 draw by Cabinteely last week as Conan Byrne saw a penalty deep in injury time saved.
Shane Farrell had fired the Reds in front late on before Shane Barnes equalised for Cabo in added time.
Shels manager Ian Morris believes Athlone will be a ‘tricky team with a lot of pace.’
“They’ve got a lot of energy and youthful exuberance,” said Morris.
“They have a good astro where they want to play and have done well at home this season so it’s going to be tough for us,” added Morris
Shelbourne will be without defender John Ross Wilson and midfielder Darragh Noone through injury while Lorcan Fitzgerald is suspended and Denzil Fernandes is a doubt.
Referee: Andrew Mullally.
Athlone Town 17/2; Draw 4/1; Shelbourne 1/4.
Athlone Town 1 – 2 Shelbourne
Injured: John Ross Wilson, Darragh Noone.
Doubtful: Denzil Fernandes.
Suspended: Lorcan Fitzgerald.