Having lost three games on the bounce, SSE Airtricity League basement club Finn Harps face a difficult task on Saturday night as they welcome table-toppers Dundalk to Finn Park (kick-off 8pm).
Harps have defended atrociously of late and conceded a wretched 12 goals in those three matches, a barren run that was compounded by a 5-3 defeat against Bohemians at Dalymount Park last week.
However, the side from Donegal can draw confidence ahead of their meeting with Dundalk, having held the Lilywhites to a 1-1 draw the last time they faced each other at Finn Park back in February.
“Look, this is a team who are top of the table and we are at the bottom so it’s going to take some display from us to get a result,” Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan told the club’s official website.
“It would be great if we could repeat the draw that we got back in February. Dundalk weren’t at their best for a while back then but they have been in really great form recently so we know what is ahead of us.
“We have worked hard this week to be ready so it’s a case now of delivering the best performance possible tomorrow night. At the same time, we’d hope that Dundalk are not at their best and a little bit of luck would be welcome as well”
Horgan will be without the suspended duo of Sean Boyd and Caolan McAleer, while captain Keith Cowan is a doubt. Harry Ascroft, Ciaran Gallagher, Michael Gallagher and John Kavanagh are all out.
This is to be Dundalk’s last fixture for three weeks, so the Lilywhites will be eager to go into their mid-season break on the back of what could be an 11th win from 12 matches when they travel to Ballybofey.
Dundalk defeated another side from the north-west in their last outing, as a hat-trick from John Mountney along with a Patrick Hoban penalty saw them record a 4-0 win over Sligo Rovers last week.
“I thought we were worthy winners last week against Sligo Rovers. It was difficult for us but we didn’t give away a lot of chances on the night,” head coach Vinny Perth told the club’s official website.
“We created a lot of chances and scored four. We are disappointed we didn’t score more but overall it was a good night for us with a win and three points.”
“We are pleased with where we are. We feel that we could have more points but we have had a good few weeks.
“The group has been excellent. In my seven years here, I feel that this is the best squad that we have. We are still missing players but we have had a good few weeks and we want to push on now. “Finn Harps have turned the corner a bit. They have caught UCD which is great for them and it’s going to be a difficult venue to go to.
“At the same time, we go there full of confidence and we have been playing well. We will go there knowing that we will have a tough game against a strong side.”
Dundalk are again without the injured Cameron Dummigan, but both Robbie Benson and Jamie McGrath could return for the crunch top-of-the-table clash with Shamrock Rovers on June 28th.
Referee: Damien MacGraith.
Finn Harps haven’t tasted a victory of any kind over Dundalk since 2007 when goals from Marc Brolly and Stephen Parkhouse saw them defeat the Lilywhites 2-0 in a promotion/relegation play-off.
The two clubs have faced each other a total of 83 times since their first ever meeting in 1969. Dundalk have won 33 of those matches, Finn Harps have won 29 and there have also been 21 draws.
Finn Harps 11/1; Draw 4/1; Dundalk 1/4
Finn Harps 0-3 Dundalk
Injured: Harry Ascroft, Ciaran Gallagher, Michael Gallagher, John Kavanagh.
Doubtful: Keith Cowan.
Suspended: Sean Boyd, Caolan McAleer.
Injured: Robbie Benson, Cameron Dummigan, Jamie McGrath.