It is third against fourth at Tolka Park on Friday night as Wexford travel to the capital to face promotion rivals Shelbourne in a tie that neither side will want to be on the losing end of.
In their last league fixture away to Waterford United, Shelbourne came back from a two-nil first half deficit to draw the game 2-2. Such was their performance in the last half-hour of the game, forcing corner after corner, that they can be considered unlucky not to have taken all three points back up the M9 to Dublin.
Shels also suffered a 1-0 defeat on the road mid-week to Dundalk in Oriel Park in the second round of the EA Sports Cup. John Mountney’s 11th minute cracker was enough to see off the visitors and put the reigning champions through to the next round.
Wexford Youths, on the other hand, had a magnificent win over one of the other favourites for the league title, Athlone Town, being the first side this season to take all three points from them.
Of the four games played between Shelbourne and Wexford last season, the Reds won both games played at Tolka Park (2-0 and 3-0), whereas ‘Youths’ won one of their home games (1-0), with the other ending in a 1-1 draw.
After last week’s league game away to Waterford United, Shelbourne manager Kevin Doherty stated he was very happy with the second half display in Waterford,
“with a bit of luck we could have got the winner. I thought we weren’t too bad in the first half and were somewhat unlucky to be two down at half time – a goal from a set-piece and a wonder goal. I’m very happy with the squad of players I have. They are a very young group and continue to learn all the time.”
Speaking about Friday’s opposition, the manager said,
“Wexford are a very good side. I have already said that I see them as the probable winners of the league this season. We know what to expect and we have prepared well for the game. It’s up to us to show what we can do, now.”
Shelbourne’s injury problems have not abated and they go into Friday night’s game still missing Simon Dixon, Paul Andrews, Dylan McGlade, Sean Heaney and Dave Ryan. Defender Alan Kehoe is doubtful, having left the field early at Oriel Park with a slight groin injury.
The visitors go into this game without injured duo Dean Broaders and Stephen Last. Both are two weeks away from a return to first team consideration. Andy Mulligan returned to training this week after a hamstring strain and is pushing for a recall to the squad.
There are also injury concerns over Craig Comerford, who injured his back in last week’s win over Athlone Town, while Craig Wall (ankle) and Eric Molloy (foot) will face late assessments.
Conor McManus, Pundit Arena