Drogheda United welcome Athlone Town to United Park on Friday night, when the two meet in the League of Ireland Premier Division for the final time this season.
Drogs will be looking to put the six nil defeat they suffered the last time the sides met behind them, while for Athlone it is all about survival and avoiding the dread playoffs.
The home side come into the game on the back of a strong three nil victory away to Limerick last weekend. Three second half goals were enough to send them back to Louth with all three points.
Michael Daly opened the scoring on sixty one minutes, before Dale Harding doubled the visitors lead five minutes later. Cathal Brady was on hand on eighty-four minutes to wrap things up for the Louth club.
Athlone come into Friday night’s game after a fantastic 2-2 draw with high flying Cork City last weekend. City took the lead nineteen minutes into the game, when Darren Dennehy put the ball into the back of Ryan Coulter’s net, but he Town cancelled out the strike just minutes before the halftime break through John Mulroy .
It was to be short-lived as the Leesiders re-established their lead on seventy-two minutes when Mark O’Sullivan found the back of the home side’s net. Things weren’t over yet however, and Athlone drew the game level four minutes later, James O’Brien with the strike.
Games between these two sides have seen eleven goals scored, with both teams recording a victory. The last time these teams faced off, Athlone recorded their biggest win of the season with a six nil thumping of last year’s FAI Cup finalists. A brace of goals from Philip Gorman sent the Town on their way.
The last time that the sides crossed paths in United Park, it was a much different story. Drogheda ran out eventual three nil winners. A Declan O’Brien hat-trick left the home side three goals to the good with four minutes to play, but two late strikes from Philip Gorman saw for a nerve last few minutes.
Athlone have it all to play for going into this game, they are four points behind UCD, which would mean they would face the winner of the promotion playoff in the first division. They are just seven points behind Bray Wanderers with eight games to go.
This writer cannot see them catching the Seasiders, but stranger things have happened in the League of Ireland. Athlone’s primary goal for the coming weeks should be getting off the foot of the table and then preparing for the playoff final.
Drogheda meanwhile have little to play for at this stage of the season, but will be looking to put the six nil hammering they suffered against the Midlanders last time around behind them. It has been a disappointing season for the Drogs. To go from having come so close to winning the cup last season, to a season which has seen them lose half of their matches and have a goal difference of minus twenty has been terrible.
The home side are also missing Gavin Brennan and Ciaran McGuigan who both miss the game through suspension.
Prediction: Athlone have yet to win on the road this season, and have a goal difference of minus two, while Drogheda have won just five times in United Park but have a goal difference of minus three. Neither side’s record looks all too convincing and for that reason we’re going with a nil all draw in this one.
Kick off in United Park is seven forty-five on Friday evening.
David Pheasey, Pundit Arena.