Reynolds says Blues focused for clash with the champions

BY 10pm tonight, they might be joint top with Shelbourne, but Waterford United manager Alan Reynolds is ensuring nobody gets carried away before clash with the champions at the RSC.

Waterford have made a smashing start to the season, lying just three points behind Pat Fenlon’s side, and while they need to beat Shels by five goals tonight to push them off their perch, victory will put them equal on points with the Dublin side.

“We are looking forward to having the champions down in Waterford,” Reynolds said. “Things have been going reasonably well since the start of the season, everybody is working hard and this is going to be a great test.”

Reynolds believes tonight’s result will not be a gauge of where exactly his team stand in the eircom League.

“Shelbourne are a good side, best in the league, it will be a tough game, but every game is tough. It is still early days yet, so nobody will be getting carried away even if we beat them.”

Willie Bruton and Johnny Frost are both out with injuries, while Kevin O’Brien is suspended, but Waterford welcome back Wayne Fitzgerald, who has missed the last few games. Meanwhile, the champions have no injury worries, Tony McCarthy is still a few games from full fitness, but Fenlon knows it is going to be a tough task.

“Waterford are going well, playing well. I am not surprised by how they started. I know Alan well, he is a born winner and has developed a good team, with some quality players.”

Victory for Shelbourne tonight and there is the possibility the champions will open a six-point gap at the top.

Hardly a yawning gap, but only eight games into the season, a substantial lead. However, Fenlon says such an early cushion will have no bearing on the destination of the championship.

“Even if we win in Waterford, I don’t think the gap will be that substantial. It is only two games really and the season has only started. We are delighted with how we have started, but the season is only seven games old,” says Fenlon, who accepts his team has enjoyed going to the RSC in recent years.

Drogheda lie in third, five points behind Shels. They go to Turner’s Cross tonight in a game that Pat Dolan’s side will have to win if they want to free themselves from the mid-table mire. Their performance at the Brandywell last week probably merited a victory, but for Micheal Holt’s last-minute penalty. Colin T O’Brien is suspended for City tonight, after being sent off last week.

In the capital, it is landlords against tenants as St Patrick’s Athletic take on Shamrock Rovers in Richmond Park.

Rovers were also victims of a last-minute penalty strike last week, when they almost surprised Bohs in Dalymount. This might be a high- scoring affair, when these sides met in Tolka last year, Pat’s won 5-3.

Liam Kelly and Mark Kenny will both be given late fitness tests, over groin problems, and Rovers manager Liam Buckley is expecting a physical contest. “Pat’s are a big physical side, very strong, and with players like Darren Maguire and Paul Osam, they have a lot of strength.

“This is an important game for both teams, we’ve both had mid-table starts to the season. The past couple of weeks we have been unfortunate, and disappointed with some of the refereeing calls against us, particularly against Bohs, to be denied victory by the last kick of the game,” Buckley said.

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