President Michael D. Higgins will be in attendance at United Park on Friday as Johnny McDonnell’s Drogheda United side, who have kept just one clean sheet this season, host an in-form Galway United side that are looking for their fourth straight win in all competitions.
The Boynesiders picked up a much-needed three points at home to Bray Wanderers a fortnight ago. However, two defeats within a week, away to Cork City and Sligo Rovers has seen Drogheda drop back down to 10th, just a point above the play-off spot.
Johnny McDonnell’s side have conceded 25 goals so far this season, keeping just one clean sheet to date, in the opening day win over Bray, something that McDonnell told the club website that he has been working on in training,
“We haven’t been defending properly in the last few weeks. Crosses into the box seem to be causing us a lot of problems as very few teams have scored by playing through us this season. We’ve done a lot of drills this week to work on how to deal with crosses and hopefully we’ll start to see an improvement tomorrow night.”
Injuries and suspensions have not helped the Boynesiders cause but Drogheda will have five players back available for selection for the visit of Galway. Alan Byrne, Shane Dunne and Daryl Kavanagh have all returned from suspension. Lloyd Buckley has recovered from flu and Stephen Maher has overcome a knee injury.
In further good news, long term absentee Neil Yadolahi is back in training but will not feature, as he is still short of match fitness. However, McDonnnell will have to plan without Cathal Brady, who is suffering from a hamstring injury.
Speaking to www.droghedaunited.ie ahead of the game, McDonnell said he doesn’t think there is much between the two sides,
“Galway have been scoring plenty of goals recently so I think keeping their front players quiet will be the key for us and ideally we’ll come away with a clean sheet. I don’t think there is much between the sides but they are full of confidence so we’ll need to be at our best to get a result.”
As for the visitors, the Tribesmen come into this game full of confidence and have won their last three games in all competitions.
A 2-0 victory away to Derry followed by a 5-3 win in a thriller against Bohemians has seen Galway rise into the top half of the table. Tommy Dunne’s men are also through to the semi-finals of the EA Sports cup, following an extra-time victory against Bohemians on Monday night.
Tommy Dunne told the club website that he has been pleased with his sides performance in recent games,
“We’ve improved in all aspects of our game. Friday’s league game against Bohemians was open, Monday’s game was more cagey and measured. I was pleased with our performances in both games.”
Jason Molloy, Alex Byrne, Ger Hanley, Marc Ludden and Conor Barry have all recovered from injury and are available for selection for the trip to United Park. However, Andy O’Connell, who had an MRI on his ankle yesterday is unavailable, as is Sam Oji and Kevin Garcia. Both are however, expected to be available next week. Kilian Cantwell has also returned to training for the Tribesmen but this game comes too soon for his return.
Speaking to www.galwayunitedfc.ie, Dunne said he is aiming to keep the good run of form going and isn’t too concerned about the fatigue of his side following a hectic schedule of games recently,
“I wouldn’t be overly concerned (about fatigue), the players have shown that they’re well able for it. We did a recovery session and we trained as normal this week.
“Against Bohemians, we were strong against a team who are doing very well. We’re aiming to go again at United Park on Friday evening and keep our run going.”
Pundit Arena Prediction
Drogheda United 1-2 Galway United
Unavailable: Cathal Brady (hamstring), Neil Yadolahi.
Unavailable: Sam Oji, Kevin Garcia, Kilian Cantwell.
League, 20th March 2015: Galway United 1-0 Drogheda United.
Referee: Ben Connolly.
Assistants: Wayne McDonnell & Mark Gavin.
Fourth Official: Robert Rogers.
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena.