Manager Pete Mahon reckons that Bohemians’ shock defeat of Cork City will have done his embattled Drogheda United team no favours as top plays bottom at United Park this evening.
“Cork will be coming here with a point to prove and will obviously be looking to wrap up the league title as soon as possible,” he says.
“We know that games are running out for ourselves. The other teams around us have not only strengthened in the transfer window but also picked up results over the last few weeks.
“But Bohs have shown that anything can happen in this league. Hopefully with a little bit of luck from the footballing gods, we can cause an upset.”
Drogheda’s cause won’t be helped tonight by the absence through injury of Gavin Brennan, Kevin Farragher, Ciaran McGuigan, and Stephen Elliott, although Richie Purdy and Ryan Masterson do return to the first-team squad.
For Cork City, who still hold a 17-point advantage at the top, the goal on Boyneside is clear: To bounce back immediately and take another step towards the title after finally surrendering their remarkable 22-game unbeaten league run in that 0-1 loss to Bohs.
“The players have been phenomenal all year and their attitude has been brilliant,” says manager John Caulfield. “The other night, fair play to Bohs, they came with a gameplan and they beat us and, over the 90 minutes, we didn’t do enough. That’s gone now, it’s done and dusted, and you have to move on to your next game.”
Assessing what’s at stake in tonight’s match, Caulfield says: “We are going for the title and Drogheda are at the bottom, fighting to survive. They know a win will bring them back into the mix and I think that race will go all the way to the end.
“With three going down this year, it is really competitive. You look at the table and you wonder are there four teams involved in the battle, are there six? It means every game is massive and it has made sure that there are no easy games this year. Every game, you have to earn the right to get the points and that is a great place to be.
“For us, we have to bounce back and go back to what we have been doing brilliantly all year. It is a crucial game for both teams and that is the way we are approaching it.”
For the visitors, Stephen Dooley, Ryan Delaney, Alan Bennett, and Jimmy Keohane are nursing knocks and will be assessed closer to kick-off.
In what has the look of a European qualification six-pointer, Shamrock Rovers host Derry City at Tallaght (8pm) while, elsewhere in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division tonight, it’s Bohemians v Bray Wanderers at Dalymount Park, champions Dundalk host Limerick at Oriel Park, and Finn Harps meet Galway United at Finn Park (8pm).
In the First Division, leaders Waterford are away to Cabinteely, while Athlone host Wexford and Shelbourne welcome UCD to Tolka Park.
Games kick off at 7.45pm unless otherwise stated.
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