Following their European exit, St. Patrick’s Athletic travel to Drogheda on Friday night as both sides look to get back to winning ways.
Drogheda were on a four-game unbeaten run until a cruel deflection in the 89th minute from a Darren Meenan free kick gave Dundalk victory in the Louth Derby a fortnight ago. Speaking about that game to the club’s official website, boss Johnny McDonnell said his side must replicate that performance if they are to get a result against Liam Buckley’s men.
“I thought we were brilliant on the night but that is the standard that we have to set. We aren’t the type of the team that can underperform and still get a result. If we don’t match that same level of performance against St Pat’s then we won’t win the game.”
McDonnell has been busy in the transfer window, with five players leaving the club and five players being signed in their place. Manuel Kaguako, James Daly, Bob McKenna, Ger Pender and Robert Bayly are the five new signings that the Boynesiders have made in the transfer window and all five got important game time at the weekend in a mid-season friendly against Scottish Championship side Falkirk, a game which Drogheda lost 5-2.
Johnny McDonnell has six players unavailable for this game, including Lee Duffy, who, alongside goalkeeper Michael Schlingermann, has been the star performer for the Louth club so far this season. The former Shels forward misses out through suspension after picking up five yellow cards this season. He joins Shane Dunne, who is serving the final game of a five game ban on the suspension list.
In addition to those two players, Drogheda will also be without new signing James Daly, who looks set to miss the remainder of the season after breaking his leg in a practice match in training on Monday night. Goalkeeper Dylan Connolly is again unavailable after having a recent operation on a broken wrist while Fionn Reilly and Lloyd Buckley are also out with hip and groin injuries respectively.
Speaking about his side’s opponents ahead of the game, McDonnell said he is expecting Pat’s to look to bounce back from their European exit last week.
“I don’t really like talking about other team’s games when they aren’t concerning us but it’s obvious that St Pat’s will be up for tomorrow’s game. Their aim will be to push on and guarantee European qualification as that’s a big money spinner for the club.”
Liam Buckley will be hoping his side can bounce back from their European exit at the hands of Latvian side Skonto Riga and continue their impressive league form, which has seen them win their last four league games. What is perhaps even more impressive is that Buckley’s men scored three goals in each of those four games and conceded just two.
The Saints boss has a near full strength side to choose from, with Sean Hoare the only absentee with a hamstring injury. However, forward Christy Fagan could also miss out as he faces a late fitness test due to a knock picked up against Skonto.
Buckley spoke to www.stpatsfc.com ahead of the game and admitted he is expecting another tough match against the Boynesiders – similar to the 2-2 draw in Richmond Park back in April.
“We travel to Drogheda now and will be looking to make sure we put in a performance. We had a tough game against Drogheda earlier in the season and Johnny [McDonnell] will have them set-up very well. United Park is always a tough place to go to so we’re expecting no different on Friday.”
Saints’ captain Ger O’Brien, like Buckley, emphasised how important it is that the Pat’s players now turn their concentration back to domestic matters.
“It’s important we re-focus on the league again. Last week was disappointing for everyone but we’ve got to look forward now. We need to find the league form we were producing from just before the Europa League campaign. There’s still a lot to play for from now till the end of the season.”
Pundit Arena Prediction
Drogheda United 1-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic.
Injured: James Daly (broken leg), Dylan Connolly (broken wrist), Fionn Reilly (hip), Lloyd Buckley (groin).
Suspended: Lee Duffy, Shane Dunne.
St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Sean Hoare.
Doubtful: Christy Fagan.
Last Two Meetings
League: 20th April 2015: St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-2 Drogheda United.
League: 10th October 2014: Drogheda United 2-3 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Referee: Robert Rogers
Assistants: Alan Sherlock, Darren Carey.
Fourth Official: Robert Harvey.
Drogheda United 13/2; Draw 7/2; St. Patrick’s Athletic 2/5.
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena