With Cork City not in action until tomorrow when they play host to Limerick, Dundalk will travel to Waterford this evening looking to convert their superior goal difference into a clear points advantage at the top of the Premier Division table.
But the Lilywhites will come up against a Waterford side who are just three points off the pace, still unbeaten at home, and keen to avenge their injury time defeat at Oriel Park earlier in the season.
The Blues also come into the game on the back of a 1-0 away win over Bohemians from which, said midfielder Bastien Hery, his team are entitled to take encouragement ahead of the meeting with the league leaders.
“We were under pressure a lot in the second half but we defended superbly well and kept a clean sheet which will give us confidence going into this game,” he said.
Manager Alan Reynolds has Gavan Holohan and David Webster back from suspension but Stanley Aborah and John Kavanagh miss out through injury while Kenny Browne and Derek Daly are rated as doubtful.
An awful lot has changed for both clubs since Dundalk last visited the RSC, for what was the 2012 promotion-relegation play-off, with tonight’s expected sell-out a clash between first and third in the top-flight.
“Waterford have had great home form and they are having a great season,” acknowledged Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny.
“They are a good side and we will have to go and produce a big performance away from home to get the victory.”
After losing 1-0 to Cork City, the Lilywhites bounced back with a five-star display against St Patrick’s Athletic to set themselves up nicely for this one.
“We were on a downer after Cork and then we had the win which picked us right up so it shows how quickly things can change in the league,” said skipper Stephen O’Donnell.
“We are able to make changes and we can freshen things up. It’s good to have such a competitive squad and everyone plays their part.”
Bruised St Pat’s find themselves in a starkly contrasting situation at home to Shamrock Rovers in Richmond Park tonight, as they face a Hoops side who finally found a result to match a performance by blowing Cork City away in Tallaght on Monday.
For Bray Wanderers, adrift at the bottom of the table, the games don’t get any easier as fourth-placed Derry City — with a game in hand on the teams above them — are next up at the Carlisle Grounds tonight.
In the First Division, meanwhile, it’s Athlone Town v Galway United, Shelbourne v UCD, Finn Harps v Drogheda United (8pm) and Wexford v Cabinteely (8pm).
Tonight’s games kick off at 7.45pm unless otherwise stated.
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