Liam Buckley’s Bit O’Red will be looking to build some much-needed momentum ahead of their FAI Cup semi-final later this month when they host Finn Harps at the Showgrounds on Friday evening (kick-off is at 8pm).
Sligo reached the FAI Cup semi-finals with a four-nil win over UCD last time out, where they have been drawn to face Dundalk in the last four at home.
The result has seen Buckley’s charges keep their season alive for another few weeks at least as hopes of a European finish have quickly evaporated thanks to inconsistent results.
However, despite the win last week, the Sligo boss admits that he is expecting a difficult derby clash this evening.
“I thought we played well in parts last week and still could have been better certainly. I thought the application and desire to win was very good,” Buckley told his club’s media team.
“We’re top of the bottom five and we’d like to stay there. Finn Harps have caused us plenty of problems this year.
“They turned us over in the league and cup away from home and we just managed a late draw against them here. We’re in for a hard night.
“They will feel this game is vital in the year, but my concern is how we get on and maintaining what has been a strong home record.
“We’ve lost four games here all season and we’d like to keep it that way for the end of the year.
“We’ve a couple of lads suspended on Friday so there will be changes and for the lads that come in, they have an opportunity to show what they can do.”
In terms of team news, Sligo will be forced to contend without the services of Lewis Banks, David Cawley and Dante Leverock through suspension.
Johnny Dunleavy is also rated as doubtful thanks to an achilles issue that has hindered him in recent weeks.
Ollie Horgan’s Harps will be hoping to continue their chase of eighth placed Cork City when they make the trip to face near neighbours Sligo Rovers this evening.
Harps come into the Northwest Derby off the back of a 2-1 defeat against St Patrick’s Athletic at home last time out.
The Co. Donegal side know that they will have to be stronger in terms of holding out a lead against their league rivals if they are to stay in the top-flight – having lost after taking a first-half lead against the Saints.
Echoing this sentiment is Harps boss Horgan – who is acutely aware of the threat Sligo pose to his side.
“We will have to be stronger in every way to get a decent result in the Showgrounds.
“We gave away two poor goals on Friday night against Pat’s and paid dearly for that.
“It was very disappointing that we couldn’t lift ourselves to really test them after that.
“The closest we came to an equaliser was Daniel O’Reilly’s shot in nearly the last action of the game.
“As we always do, we have moved on and really now need a big response from the players for to night’s game” Horgan concluded.
Niall Logue joins Ciaran Gallagher and Michael Gallagher on the injury list for the Premier Division relegation candidates.
However, Mark Russell returns to the squad after missing the Pat’s match due to suspension.
Referee: Ben Connolly.
The sides have met three times already this season, with a win for both teams – and a draw that came at the Showgrounds back in April when the hosts levelled late on.
Finn Harps have lost their last three competitive games, with two coming in the league and one in the FAI Cup away to Shamrock Rovers.
The Bit O’Red are winless in their previous three games against the Co. Donegal side, with their last win over Harps coming in March.
Sligo Rovers 4/5; Draw 23/10; Finn Harps 16/5.
Sligo Rovers 2 - 1 Finn Harps
Doubtful: Johnny Dunleavy.
Suspended: Lewis Banks, David Cawley, Dante Leverock.
Injured: Niall Logue, Michael Gallagher, Ciaran Gallagher.