A tight low-scoring affair is likely when Shelbourne and Sligo Rovers do battle in the Premier Division at Tolka Park on Sunday evening (kick-off 5pm).
Shels eased any lingering relegation worries with a battling win away to Waterford last Saturday.
Ryan Brennan’s 84th minute header gave the Dubliners an invaluable three points as Shels left the RSC on the right end of a 1-0 scoreline.
That welcome victory was a first in nine League matches for Ian Morris’ charges – a run broken only by that impressive 5-2 away win at Galway in the FAI Cup.
In the wake of the Waterford result, Morris said: "Staying up has to be the priority after you're promoted.” Three points against Sligo will all but guarantee that.
Morris is putting significant emphasis on his side’s October assignments against Waterford, Sligo, Derry and Rovers.
“We broke the season down into these last four games, forgetting about everything that had gone before.
“Lady luck hadn't been with us in a lot of recent matches and we had gifted team goals. Individual errors cost us.
“Getting three points in the first of these four last matches is huge. But we got a good break after Waterford had a strong spell in the second half.
“Over 80 per cent of our squad played in the First Division last year. We added a bit of quality where we could.
“Unfortunately, that's just where we are as a club but hopefully we can stabilise and attract some quality signings for next season."
Sligo have had a couple of weeks to reflect on a comprehensive 4-0 Tallaght Stadium reverse at the hands of champions-elect Shamrock Rovers on October 2nd.
The European hopes of the Bit O’ Red have suffered a blow in recent times with the Shamrock Rovers defeat a third such setback in the space of four matches.
Liam Buckley’s men sit sixth in the table and now have some ground to make up on the likes of Dundalk, Waterford and St. Pat’s.
Speaking to Sligo Rovers media team in advance of the trip east, Buckley is optimistic. “After two weeks, we’re really eager it because there is a lot to play for in the season.
“If you even just look at the teams we have to face, Shelbourne need a result to secure their safety, Cork are looking for that one win to move them up off the bottom and Dundalk are looking to seal a European spot.
“That’s just one example and it really is all to play for in every game in the league.
“There is a reward there for us, for all of our effort, if we can produce a run of results in these matches. We’ve got the FAI Cup as well so it could be up to six games I hope.
“We’re in the mix for the things we want to be in and that’s what you want at this stage of the season. We’re looking for one result on Sunday and then see where it can leave us.
“Over the two weeks we have had time on the training pitch, rejigging and working on a couple of things.
“We’re aware there are prizes on offer still for all of the teams in the table, be it avoiding relegation, European places. It’s going to take a gigantic effort over the next month or so but we’ve shown we’re capable of putting results together.
“There wasn’t much in it in the game earlier in the season. We came out on top by the one goal and Shelbourne have been a hard opponent for every side this campaign.
“It’ll be a tough game. But as I said, there’s lots on the line and we go there knowing the result we want.”
Referee: Raymond Matthews.
Earlier this season the Bit O’ Red came out 2-1 winners against Shelbourne at The Showgrounds thanks to a goal in either half from Jesse Devers and David Cawley. Shels could only muster a very late consolation from Gary Deegan.
With the Drumcondra men exiled in the First Division, Shels and Sligo hadn’t previously locked horns in the Premier Division for seven years so Sligo’s last win in Dublin 3 came back in 2013 (a 2-0 victory) .
Shels have struggled for wins at Tolka Park all season. The Reds have scored just six times at home in the league this term and have to go all the way back to 28th February for their last home league victory, a 1-0 verdict over St. Pat’s.
Equally, picking up wins on the road has proved elusive for Sligo, who have netted just twice in seven away league matches.
The only three-point return for the Westerners in 2020 arrived at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium in July, by 2-0 over Derry City.
Shelbourne 7/5; Draw 21/10; Sligo Rovers 9/5
Shelbourne 1-1 Sligo Rovers
Doubtful: Jaze Kabia.
Injured: John Dunleavy, Danny Kane.
Doubtful: Regan Donelon, Ronan Murray.
Suspended: Kyle Callan-McFadden.