Limerick take on the challenge of Athlone Town in a battle between the SSE Airtricity First Division’s least in form sides at the Market’s Field tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.45pm - buy tickets here).
The Super Blues have been on a slump of late and will be looking for a much needed home win over the Town to boost morale and heal some of the chronic wounds that have scuppered all of the Shannonsiders hopes of being in the hunt for promotion.
Tommy Barrett’s side did manage to put their recent poor league form aside and took on the challenge of Munster Senior League outfit Cobh Wanderers in the first round of the FAI Cup at St. Colman’s Park last week.
This had a potential banana skin written all over it and the men from the Rebel County frustrated their illustrious opponents in the first half and kept them at bay to go in at 0-0 at half-time.
A similar pattern continued after the break and as the half wore on a potential upset looked very much on the cards.
However, Barrett and the travelling Super Blues fans breathed a massive sigh of relief with just 11 minutes remaining on the clock as Edmond O’Dwyer stepped up to break Wanderers’ hearts and ensure that Limerick would be in the hat for the second round draw.
The Super Blues have been rewarded with a plum tie away to Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds on 24th August.
Prior to their cup win, Limerick had been on a dreadful run of four consecutive league defeats against Bray Wanderers (1-0), Drogheda United (1-4), Cobh Ramblers (3-4), and Cabinteely (3-0).
The Super Blues' last league win was a 3-1 triumph over Longford Town at the Market’s Field in early July.
Barrett’s men have been struggling to find the net during that period having scored just 4 goals averaging one per game and defensively they have been leaking goals for fun having conceded 12 goals averaging 3 per game.
The Town are also coming off the back of some bad form in the SSE Airtricity First Division and face a tough ask to make the trip to the midwest and take the spoils back to the midlands.
Athlone were unceremoniously dumped out of the FAI Cup at the first hurdle 3-1 at the hands of rivals Longford Town at the City Calling Stadium on Tuesday night.
The opening exchanges were cagey with both sides playing a certain degree of caution and avoiding making mistakes.
However, the game exploded into life on 40 minutes when The Town threatened to create an upset when they hit the front thanks to a strike from Kealan Dillon.
The travelling fans' joy was short-lived and just one minute into the second half the home side drew level at 1-1 with Aaron Dobbs endearing himself to De Town faithful.
The momentum was now firmly with Longford, but they had to wait until 19 minutes from time to get their noses in front with Joseph Manley grabbing what seemed to be the winner.
Athlone Town poured forward and threw caution to the wind in a bid to find an equaliser but were unable to find a way past a resolute Longford defence.
Aaron Dobbs sealed a 3-1 win with his second goal of night two minutes into injury time to send De Town through to the next round and end Athlone’s cup interest for another season.
Athlone have been on a dreadful run of form in the league recently having suffered four losses in a row against Cobh Ramblers (2-1), Shelbourne (1-2), Bray Wanderers (3-0), and Longford Town (1-5).
The Town’s last league win came in a 3-1 demolition of bottom side Wexford at the Athlone Town Stadium at the beginning of July.
The Town’s biggest challenge during this spell has been their inability to find the back of the net having scored just three goals, averaging 0.75 per game, while defensively they have been shocking conceding 12 goals, averaging three goals per game.
Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan
Limerick and Athlone Town have met each other on two previous occasions in the league this season with Limerick winning 2-0 at the Market’s Field in March and the second match ending in a 1-1 draw at the Athlone Town Stadium at the end of May.
The Super Blues and the Town have played each other 18 times competitively since 2010 with Limerick dominating the fixture with 16 wins to Athlone’s one win and one draw.
Limerick scored 40 goals in the 18 matches averaging 2.22 per game while Athlone Town scored 12 goals averaging 0.66 per game.
Limerick are currently in sixth place in the SSE Airtricity First Division on 32 points from 23 matches with nine wins, five draws and nine defeats.
Athlone Town are currently in nith place in the SSE Airtricity First Division on 16 points from 23 matches with four wins, four draws and 15 defeats.
Limerick 4/9 Draw 11/4 Athlone Town 5/1
Limerick 2-0 Athlone Town
Suspended: Tomas O’Connor.