Finn Harps are still looking for their first league win of the season.
After 15 games, Ollie Horgan’s outfit look fit for the drop and very little else. That’s not to say they’re not good value for their place in the league this season.
Despite their abysmal form, which includes just four points (from four draws), Finn Harps are causing the division’s best sides problems.
They secured draws against Dundalk and St Patrick’s Athletic earlier in the season and, on their last two times out, Harps won two points with draws against Sligo Rovers and Cork City.
Three of those four points have come on the road, including their last two.
Pacesetters Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians both managed to win at Finn Park, but only by dint of 1-0 scorelines.
UCD travel to Ballybofey in worse form than their hosts.
Collie O’Neill has had his side playing good football. Despite a very poor run recently, the Students find themselves just three points off eighth-placed Cork City.
While results have been hard to come by, important wins have been secured at home to Cork, Waterford, and Friday’s opponents Finn Harps.
The big problem for UCD is their away form.
They have picked up no points from a possible 18, with a goal difference of -12.
Of late, form home and away has hit the skids. UCD have lost their last four, conceding 10 goals in the process.
Most damaging would have been their 2-0 defeat in Belfield to Sligo.
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) April 30, 2019
When most sides make the long trip to Finn Park they tend to expect an unnaturally narrow pitch.
It’s a legitimate approach by Finn Harps. They have a skillset and they have areas of weakness. Rightly, they should try to adapt their environment to match their skills wherever possible.
Ollie Horgan has gathered a combative group who will give nothing away for free. So combative are they that Harps have picked up three red cards in the league already.
If the game goes their way, it’s likely to be a dour contest.
UCD are the darlings of the LOI media.
Many perceive them to be punching above their weight and, yet, Collie Doyle insists on his side playing football ‘the right way’.
So far, it has reaped relatively good dividends. If they can stop the rot of late, they’re well primed to apply pressure to the likes of Cork City and Sligo Rovers.
If the Dublin side are to prosper in Donegal then they will have to impose their game. Doyle’s men dominate the ball when playing at their best. Their three league wins have seen UCD with possession figures of 59% v Cork, 56% v Waterford, and 62% against their next opponents Finn Harps.
Three wins and draw from their last four meetings give UCD an edge in terms of the head-to-head record. However, only one of those games took place at Finn Park and UCD were in far better form on each occasion than they are now.
Both bets were landed when Shamrock Rovers overcame St Patrick’s Athletic in a low-scoring affair in Tallaght. Hopefully we’ll have as much joy analysing teams at the foot of the Premier Division this week.
While UCD have the better league position, and superior head-to-head record, I’m going with recent form and home advantage for this game.
I think there’s very good value about backing Harps this week.
In their four draws, Horgan’s side have failed to score more than once. So it’s imperative they keep a clean sheet.
Provided they manage that then I like the look of my first bet.
Finn Harps to Win and Under 2.5 Goals at 4/1.
At a smaller price I recommend Finn Harps to Win to Nil at 16/5.
And, in keeping with my expectation of the home side making this game a low-scoring, cagey affair, I’m going for a match-result-proof bet.
Both Teams to Score and Totals 2.5 Goals:
No and Under 2.5 goals at 13/10.