Drogheda look to stretch lead

UNBEATEN Drogheda United will have the chance to go clear at the top of the eircom League when they face Shamrock Rovers this evening at Tolka Park (kick off 8pm; all other games 7.45pm).

With St Pat’s not in action until tomorrow when they take on Sligo Rovers, Drogheda have the chance to take the lead but must contend with a growing injury list to which has now been added to by Aidan O’Keefe and Damian Lynch, on top of confirmation that skipper Declan O’Brien will be out long term with knee medial ligament damage.

Hoops boss Pat Scully, although still without skipper Aidan Price, will be able to call on Danny O’Connor and Andy Myler, both of whom came off the bench in the 0-0 draw with Cork City at Turner’s Cross.

“I was delighted with the performance down in Cork,” says Scully. “We were very unlucky not to win and we created the better chances. I was very pleased that we were able to go down there with a young team and play well in front of a big crowd. If we keep that up we can get three points against Drogheda.”

Cork City travel to the Carlisle Grounds to take on Bray Wanderers.

Having rested a number of players in the 2-1 win over Dungannon which secured City a Setanta Cup semi-final berth against Linfield, Damian Richardson has a full squad to choose from, with the obvious exceptions of Gareth Farrelly and Colin Healy.

“We lost 2-1 in Bray near the end of last season and that evening still has a bad taste for me,” says the City boss.

“ I can’t wait for this game because I want to ensure that we set the record straight and erase that bad memory.”

Bohemians captain Kevin Hunt will have a late fitness test ahead of their meeting with Galway United at Dalymount Park, but manager Sean Connor expects him to make the game. Indeed, the Gypsies boss has the luxury of almost a full squad to choose from tonight.

“Harpal Singh played his first competitive game in the League Cup this week and it is great to have him back,” says Connor. “Darren Mansaram has made an impact in every game this season and the fact he scored a brace in his first competitive start will be hard to ignore in my team selection. Conor Powell also staked a strong claim.” But Connor cautioned against complacency despite the Gypsies’ recent form.

“Galway have lost a number of games by the odd goal and they are certainly due a change of fortune,” he says. “I believe the best is yet to come from Tony Cousins’ side.”

Pat Fenlon is happy that Derry City are on the right track despite bowing out of the Setanta Cup against Drogheda. Goalkeeping errors saw Drogheda overturn a 1-0 deficit to win the game but the much-improved nature of the Candystripes’ performance heartened the Derry boss.

“The way we played, the shape of the team, it shows we are not far away from the sort of football we want to play,” he says. Tonight, at home to UCD, Fenlon will be hoping his side can pick up the three points needed to threaten the top five.

At the bottom, strugglers Longford Town, with just one point, host Waterford United who are two points above them. Blues boss Gareth Cronin will again be without Robbie Hedderman and Kenny Browne but hopes to build on last week’s narrow loss to Derry.

“It was very annoying to lose in such a manner,” he says, “but it was the first time in a month that we played to our potential and there is a marked improvement in morale amongst the players this week.”

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