Shamrock Rovers look to bring a two-game winless run to an end on Saturday afternoon as they host Bohemians in one of the biggest Dublin Derbies in years (kick-off 2pm).
First welcome second to Tallaght Stadium where the absence of a crowd will make for a less-than-cauldron-like atmosphere but there’ll be no shortage of intensity on show.
In terms of importance, only last year’s FAI Cup semi-final at Dalymount Park ranks alongside Saturday’s game as the Dublin rivals emerge as the clear favourites for the title.
Successive scoreless draws away to St Patrick’s Athletic and home to Shelbourne have seen the Hoops’ previously perfect record retreat somewhat.
The draws have seen Rovers watch their lead at the top of the table shrink from six to two points, and victory for the visitors will see them go top for the first time this year.
Rovers did at least get back to winning ways in the FAI Cup on Monday, where a goal in either half from wing-back Danny Lafferty earned a 2-1 win at home to Cork City.
“It’s a Dublin Derby. It’s a big game,” Hoops boss Stephen Bradley told the club’s official website.
“It’s Bohs at home, first against second, so it’s one we’re very much looking forward to. We’ve had a great start to the season and we’re looking to continue that.
“First v second obviously adds a little bit more to the game but at the end of the day there is only the three points up for grabs that there is every week.
“We’ve got to make sure that we approach the game like we do all the time and impose ourselves on the game.
“I think you’ve seen over the past 14-16 months with these players that the bigger the game the better they are.
“The bigger the occasion the better they are and I don’t think tomorrow will be any different.
“I think that it’s a game that you really look forward to, big games are the ones you want to be part of. We’re at this club for big games.”
Bradley has a full squad to choose from with the exception of Greg Bolger and Sean Kavanagh, who remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
Bohemians will go top of the Premier Division for the first time this season at the expense of their closest rivals should they pull off a win at Tallaght Stadium.
Winning has become a habit for Keith Long’s side with six straight wins in the league making the Phibsboro outfit the form team in the country.
So, too, has winning at Tallaght become a habit for Bohs, who had won four in a row at their rivals’ home ground before Rovers broke the Gypsies’ curse late last season.
There’s little to choose between the teams at the moment: they even both managed to take their Europa League games to penalties last week.
Bohs were desperately unlucky not to beat Hungarian side Fehervar in 90 minutes, while Rovers prevailed over Finns Ilves following an epic 26-penalty shoot-out.
Like most games between the two sides, this game is bound to be just as tight, with the odd goal more often than not enough to separate the sides.
Bohemians haven’t released team news but have doubts over both Keith Buckley and Rob Cornwall, who limped off during last week’s penalty shoot-out defeat in Hungary.
Referee: Rob Harvey.
Danny Lafferty’s winning strike against Cork City on Monday saw the Hoops record their 500th goal at Tallaght Stadium.
Rovers have won the last three games between the sides – once in Tallaght and twice at Dalymount Park – but were eight games without a win before that.
Bohs won seven of the eight meetings between July 2017 and June 2019, with the other game a 0-0 draw at Dalymount.
Shamrock Rovers 4/7; Draw 5/2; Bohemians 9/2.
Shamrock Rovers 0 – 1 Bohemians
Injured: Greg Bolger, Sean Kavanagh.
Doubtful: Rob Cornwall (ankle), Keith Buckley (hamstring).