Friday Night’s LOI Preview

Eight games are taking place in the League of Ireland on Friday with four games across both divisions. With Shamrock Rovers not playing until Sunday, after their Europa Conference League draw against Djurg√•rdens in Tallaght Stadium last night, there’s a big opportunity for the chasing duo of Dundalk and Derry City to put some pressure on the league leaders.

Earlier this week, the FAI awarded Dundalk a 3-0 win over Sligo Rovers after Sligo fielded a suspended player in the game which they won 2-0 on the night. That punishment saw Dundalk climb above Derry into second and just three points behind Shamrock Rovers albeit Dundalk, have played two more games than the Hoops.

Tonight, Dundalk travels to the bottom side UCD, where Dundalk previously threw away a 2-0 lead and were lucky to come away with a point. Counting that controversial Sligo game as a defeat, Dundalk are winless in their last three league matches and were very fortunate to get past First Division side Wexford in the FAI Cup recently. A clean sheet at home to Shelbourne last time would have been very much welcomed by manager Stephen O’Donnell given the Lilywhites defensive issues of late but in saying that, Shelbourne are one of the lowest scoring sides in the division so it’s difficult to know how significant that feat is. At the other end of the park, Dundalk are massively lacking the presence of Pat Hoban with the Louth men failing to score in their last three league matches.

All of that suggests UCD may not be without hope this evening, as the Students look to claw themselves off the foot of the table. UCD to win is 11/2, while UCD Double Chance is 6/4.

Tonight’s live game on RTE2 is Derry City v Bohemians. A win for Derry City would put them within one point of Shamrock Rovers while Bohemians will be looking to build on last Friday’s shock Dublin Derby win at home to Shamrock Rovers. That result came just days after the Gypsies sacked their manager of the last 8 years, Keith Long, with Derek Pender and Trevor Croly taking charge. With Derry City in good form at the moment, the visitors may have to play with their backs to the wall for long periods. A bumper home crowd will attempt to push Derry City over the line and with the likes of Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney now fully fit, the Candystripes may just edge this one. Derry are 6/10.

Elsewhere, in the Premier Division, St.Patrick’s Athletic will be seeking a fifth straight win as the Saints look to shift either Derry City or Dundalk out of the top three and in turn qualify for Europe next season. Drogheda United have proved to be a remarkably tough nut to crack at home this season, taking points off the likes of Shamrock Rovers, Derry City, and Dundalk at Head In The Game Park.

However, with Drogheda United safe in mid-table for some time now and St.Pat’s in desperate need of the three points, the Inchicore outfit may have a slighter sharper edge about them. Chris Forrester has been in excellent form of late with two goals and an assist in his last two games. The former Peterborough midfielder is 10/3 to net anytime this evening.

Also in the top-flight tonight, Shelbourne hosts a Sligo team who will be crestfallen to have seen their hard work on the pitch at Dundalk chalked off due to a club admin error. Shelbourne are a very difficult side to play against with Damien Duff bringing a real organisation to the Tolka Park outfit since his appointment but they’ve struggled for goals this season and with Sligo’s season effectively ended with that FAI decision, this may not be a classic.

In the First Division, the Munster Derby between Waterford and Cork City is the highlight of the night as the Rebels look to take another step towards securing the title. Cork’s next game is against their nearest rivals Galway United so if Colin Healy’s men can come away unscathed from these upcoming matches then they’ll be well set to go on and finish the job. The draw tonight is priced at 12/5.

Should Cork slip up, Galway United will need to capatilise in their fixture away to second-bottom side Cobh Ramblers. The Corkmen have been totally uncompetitive this term, losing 20 of their 27 matches. Galway United are a short-priced 3/10.

As for the race for the final play-off place in the division, Treaty United could put one foot in the door with a home win over another fairly uncompetitive team this season, Bray Wanderers. While Bray beat Athlone last time out, that’s a game they should be winning. Treaaty United don’t lose to teams below them in the table too often at home so this looks a good opportunity for the Limerickmen to enhance their play-off hopes. Treaty to win looks good value at 11/10.

Despite some really strong performances of late, Wexford find themselves six points behind Treaty which means there’s no margin for error as Ian Ryan’s men travel to the Midlands to take on Athlone Town. Wexford have been playing some lovely stuff in recent weeks, scoring at least two goals in five of their last six games in all competitions, and no faced with a game against the division’s bottom side they should fancy their chances. Athlone Town officially have the leakiest defence in the country with Wexford to win priced at 13/20.

 



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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article