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League Preview: Shelbourne -v- Athlone Town

Fri, May 12 2017

Roddy Collins has been appointed by Athlone Town but will not be in charge for the game against Shelbourne Credit: Laszlo Geczo (ETPhotos)

SHELBOURNE

Shelbourne will be hoping to put a stop to their run of four straight league defeats when they welcome Athlone Town to Tolka Park on Friday night.

 

After a slow start to their season Shels put together three consecutive wins in late March / early April but a 3-1 defeat away to Longford put a stop to that and further defeats followed against UCD, Cobh and Waterford.

 

An impressive 3-0 Leinster Senior Cup win away to near neighbours Bohemians provided some relief but the fact remains that Owen Heary’s men have failed to score in four of their last five league and cup matches.

 

Shelbourne’s form hasn’t been helped by recent injuries and Heary will again be without several key players. Striker James English serves part of his three-match ban following his red card against Cobh while Chris Lyons, Dylan Kavanagh, Adam O’Connor and Aidan Collins are all ruled out through injury.

 

ATHLONE TOWN

Athlone enter this tie knowing they have a new manager in the wings but Roddy Collins, who was appointed to the job on Thursday, will not take charge until next weekend when the Midlanders face Cabinteely at Stradbrook.

 

Interim manager Ricardo Cravo will continue in his role at Tolka Park and will be hoping his side can reproduce the form that saw them beat Division leaders Cobh Ramblers at Lisseywoolen last Friday night.

 

Athlone’s win over Cobh was all the more impressive given that they are operating amidst the chaos of the FAI investigation into match fixing but whether they can maintain a positive outlook on the pitch with so much negative publicity surrounding them remains to be seen.

 

Athlone’s away form this season is not good. They won their first away fixture, 2-1 against Wexford at Ferrycarrig Park back in early March, but since then they have had four games on the road and lost them all. They also lost heavily to Shelbourne in their previous meeting, going down 4-1 on home turf in a game that is suspected to be one of those that UEFA and the FAI are investigating.

 

The appointment of Collins may offer some hope to the club’s supporters, having led Athlone to the First Division title in 2013, and a positive result against Shels would certainly help to boost morale.

 

Referee: Andrew Mullally

 

MATCH FACTS

Athlone Town have failed to score in a league game just once this season, when they went down 3-0 to Midlands rivals Longford Town back in March.

 

Shelbourne have lost their last three league matches 1-0.

 

The top league scorer from both of squads is Shelbourne centre back Derek Prendergast, who has struck four times in 2017.

 

BETTING

Shelbourne 1/2; Draw 3/1; Athlone 5/1.

 

PREDICTION

Shelbourne 1-1 Athlone Town

 

Shelbourne

Injured: Chris Lyons, Dylan Kavanagh, Adam O’Connor, Aidan Collins.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: James English.

 

Athlone Town

Injured: Unavailable.

Doubtful: Unavailable.

Suspended: Jason Molloy.