Early days in the League of Ireland, this is just the second round of games, but there are encouraging signs for both sides after week one.
Liam Buckley hardly had to wait long to manage against his old club. It’s a quick reunion for former Sligo striker Mikey Drennan also.
Sligo won an unlikely point at the home of the defending champions in Oriel Park last Friday. It was a typically obstinate performance from The Bit O’ Red.
Having taken the lead through a speculative free-kick, and conceded an equaliser early in the second half, they defended well to make sure the spoils were split on opening night.
It was even better for St Pat’s at Richmond Park.
An opening assignment against Cork City was always going to be a tricky way to start a campaign. A tight-fought 1-0 win with a goal courtesy of their newly signed striker Drennan was an ideal way to overcome their first hurdle.
While Harry Kenny recruited well during the off-season, it can’t be forgotten that they have looked more like relegation candidates rather than title contenders in the last two seasons.
Three points against the only team to compete with Dundalk over the last half decade can’t be taken for granted.
There was much to encourage Buckley after their draw in Dundalk from a defensive perspective and in terms of the character shown. He will now set about the tricky task of getting Sligo to play with fluency and accuracy.
It’s unlikely the Buckley-dogma will have kicked in over the course of seven days. Therefore we can expect Sligo to continue to go directly to Romeo Parkes.
The towering Jamaican was a strong outlet for Rovers last time out and looked to have an appetite for occupying two central defenders instead of one.
St Patrick’s Athletic will similarly be hoping for a more fluent performance than that of week one.
Possession should be easier to come by against Sligo compared to Cork City and ultimately this is the type of game that Pat’s will have to take a hold of and deliver an imposing performance in, if they are to manufacture a title challenge this season.
This fixture has been a tight-affair that last few time the teams have met at the Showgrounds.
In the last five, there’s been one win for each side, and three draws. Those games have provided on average of just 1.3 total goals across the set of five.
— St Patrick's Athletic FC (@stpatsfc) February 16, 2019
Ronan Murray and David Cawley, with respective ankle and knee complaints are doubtful and will undergo late fitness tests for Sligo Rovers.
Harry Kenny and St Pat’s could have a full team to select from on Friday night if Brendan Clarke (scorer of the winner here for Pat’s last year) and Gary Shaw pass late fitness tests.
I can see a tight affair at the Showgrounds on Friday night.
As each squad in the league typically has a high turnover over the off-season, it will take a few weeks for each side to bed-down.
If things are disjointed we can start to expect a low scoring affair, as has been the case in recent seasons.
Under 1.5 Total Goals at 2/1
I also see good value about Under 2.5 Total Goals at 4/6
In terms of a result, I fancy the Draw at 11/5