Johnny McDonnell’s depleted Drogheda United side travel to the Showgrounds on Saturday evening to take on fellow strugglers Sligo Rovers.
Owen Heary’s Sligo side came close to grabbing their fifth away point of the season in Cork last week, until a late Mark O’Sullivan winner handed the Leesiders all three points.
That result means that the Bit O’ Red are now without a win in the league in over a month, when a 5th minute Dinny Corcoran penalty against Galway provided them with their only win of the season to date.
Morten Nielsen is available once again for the Bit O’ Red, as is defender Gavin Peers. Peers, who has been suffering from a groin problem picked up last month in a cup defeat to Derry, scored against the Boynesiders when the sides met in a five-goal thriller at United Park back in March.
However, Jake Dykes (hamstring) joins long-term absentee Jeff Henderson on the injury list.
Speaking to www.sligorovers.com, Heary said he believes a lack of concentration is what has cost his side on numerous occasions this season.
“It’s a lack of concentration. You have to drill it into the younger players especially. They have to concentrate for the full 90 minutes and beyond. You need to be switched on all the time for every moment in the game. But they will learn that from playing at a higher level.”
Heary is also hopeful that his side can take advantage of Drogheda’s suspension problems and believes his side can emerge victorious;
“They are a young team a bit like us, so with them missing some experienced players like Alan Byrne and Daryl Kavanagh, hopefully that’s something we can take advantage of. I think we are going into this game with a good chance of getting the three points.”
When these sides last met, Sligo twice took the lead but eventually lost the game as a determined Drogheda side twice fought back before going on to win, courtesy of a Neil Yadolahi header 20 minutes from time.
Since that victory, Drogheda have had eight defeats, two draws and just one win, which was at home to a then-managerless Bray Wanderers in horrible conditions last Friday.
The Boynesiders beat the Seagulls 4-2 last Friday before travelling to Cork on Monday in a game rescheduled due to the Leesiders upcoming involvement in Europe. The game in Cork started off well for Johnny McDonnell’s side, as a shock Lee Duffy strike sent his side in ahead at the break. It was in the second half when Drogheda seemed to fall apart, eventually losing 4-1.
However, the result was made worse as three Drogheda players saw red. Shane Dunne was shown a straight red for a late tackle on John Kavanagh.
Alan Byrne was then controversially sent off when the referee adjudged that Byrne had handled the ball in the box, even though replays and pictures of Byrne afterwards show that the ball clearly hit his chest, leaving a visible mark, which Byrne showed the ref on the pitch.
Former Cork and Sligo Rovers forward Daryl Kavanagh was also shown red, after the full time whistle, for dissent.
Drogheda will be without all three players mentioned above through suspension, along with Stephen Maher (knee) and Neil Yadolahi (quad) through injury. The young and talented defender Lloyd Buckley is also doubtful due to having flu.
Speaking to www.droghedaunited.ie, McDonnell said his side must make the trip west in the belief that they can come home with all three points.
“I’m not concerned with what’s going on at Sligo at the moment as we have more than enough to focus on here. We have to go there and think we can get something out of the game. We will go to Sligo with the group of players that are available and I’m sure we will do our best to get a result.”
Pundit Arena Prediction
Sligo Rovers 2-2 Drogheda United
Injured: Jeff Henderson (foot) & Jake Dykes (hamstring)
Injured: Stephen Maher (knee) & Neil Yadolahi (quad)
Doubtful: Lloyd Buckley (flu)
Suspended: Shane Dunne, Alan Byrne & Daryl Kavanagh
Last Two Meetings
13th March 2015: Drogheda United 3-2 Sligo Rovers
20th September 2014: Sligo Rovers 0-2 Drogheda United
Referee: Graham Kelly
Assistants: Ken Hennessey & Trevor Conlon
Fourth Official: Marc Lynch
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena.