While Athlone Town currently prop up the table, they are now only one point behind UCD and five behind Bray Wanderers. But the Students also have a game in hand on the Seasiders, as the tooth and nail fight to stay in the top division looks all set to go right down to the wire.
Nine-man Bray held out for what could prove to be a crucial point when they drew 1-1 away to Drogheda United last Friday, although the two red cards shipped by his side in that game mean manager Alan Mathews will have to do without defender Shane O’Connor and striker Ismahil Akinade for this evening’s visit of Derry City to the Carlisle Grounds (7.45pm).
Second-from-bottom UCD meanwhile, are coming off the back of a 2-0 defeat to leaders Dundalk as they prepare to make the journey to Tallaght to face Shamrock Rovers (8pm).
In tonight’s other Premier Division game, third-placed St Patrick’s Athletic welcome Bohemians for a Dublin derby at Richmond Park, with Gypsies manager Owen Heary looking to end his first season in charge with a top-half finish.
“We have no fear,” says Heary. “We’re not in any danger of relegation, so the lads are able to get to grips with games. We’ve four games left against four teams ahead of us (Pat’s, Sligo, Cork and Derry) and we want to prove ourselves against those sides and get as high a position as we can.”
For Pats, says skipper Ger O’ Brien, there’s a higher goal to aim for.
“Three points would nearly secure a top three finish and get the club back into Europe next year,” he says.
“That’s a target we have as a group, to get back into Europe, as we know how much that means to the fans and for us as players.”
In the First Division meanwhile, Wexford Youths host FAI Ford Cup semi-finalists Finn Harps at Ferrycarrig Park (8pm).