Shamrock Rovers travel to United Park in search of their third consecutive league win as they face a Drogheda United side looking for their first win in four games.
Drogheda travelled to Longford last weekend, looking to avoid a third successive defeat and that they did, thanks to an equaliser from top goalscorer Lee Duffy and the heroics of goalkeeper Michéal Schlingermann.
That point leaves Drogheda sitting in ninth in the league table, just a point off Longford who are in sixth place and six points clear of both Derry and Sligo, who sit in tenth and eleventh respectively.
In the first meeting between these sides at the start of May, the Boynesiders were defeated by a first half strike from Mikey Drennan, who is now once again available following a long suspension. Speaking about that game to the Drogs’ official website, boss Johnny McDonnell said it was one of their best performances to date.
“The game in Tallaght was one of our best performances of the season and we missed a few chances on the night. I think Rovers are a different side to St Pat’s or Dundalk; they don’t move the ball as quickly but they have some of the best individual players in the league.”
McDonnell also said he is hoping his side can make their home advantage count on the night.
“We know that we will need to be at our best to get a result especially given the quality they have out wide. We’ve been looking confident in training this week and the plan is to play on the front foot and make our home advantage count.”
In team news, Alan Byrne has recovered from a back injury picked up against Longford. Lloyd Buckley and Adam Whelan are both available again, having recovered from a groin injury and tonsillitis respectively.
Fionn Reilly, on the other hand, remains out with a hip injury. Goalkeeper Dylan Connolly is also still unavailable as he recovers from an operation on his broken wrist while midfielder James Daly remains a long-term absentee with a broken leg.
Shamrock Rovers have come away the victors on their last twelve visits to United Park, a ground that they are unbeaten at since April, 2005.
Pat Fenlon’s side come into this game in the hope of securing a third consecutive league win, which could see them move up to third in the league, depending on St. Pat’s result at home to Galway.
Rovers bounced back from their European exit with a 4-1 victory over Limerick, a result that Fenlon, speaking to the Hoops’ website, says showed the confidence in his side and the form they are in.
“We said that we needed to bounce back from Europe last week against Limerick and we did that scoring 4 goals, showing that there is a lot of confidence in the team and that we are in good form.”
Fenlon said his side are in for a tough encounter on Friday evening, but are aiming to come away from United Park with three points.
“Drogheda have been good of late and are going well in games so we know we will have a tough match on Friday. It’s always tough at United Park with the tight pitch but we will be going for all three points to continue our good league form.”
Fenlon welcomes back striker Mikey Drennan from suspension for this encounter but will have to plan without the services of the injured midfield quartet of Sean O’Connor, Stephen McPhail, Keith Fahey and Damien Duff.
Pundit Arena Prediction
Drogheda United 1-3 Shamrock Rovers
Injured: James Daly (broken leg), Dylan Connolly (broken wrist), Fionn Reilly (hip).
Injured: Sean O’Connor, Stephen McPhail, Keith Fahey, Damien Duff.
Last Two Meetings
League, 1 May 2015: Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Drogheda United.
League, 17 October 2014: Drogheda United 0-2 Shamrock Rovers.
Drogheda United 7/1, Draw 31/10, Shamrock Rovers 4/9.
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena.