The Boynesides welcome second placed St. Patrick's Athletic to Head in the Game Park on Friday for this fixture with a 7.45pm kick off.
The County Louth side took full advantage of the difficulties at Waterford United at the moment by thrashing their Under-19 side 7-0 at the Waterford RSC last Saturday night when the club stood down their first team due to COVID-19 issues.
That win leaves United in a very healthy fifth position in the league table on 13 points, ahead of pre-season title contenders Bohemians and Dundalk, and with their goal difference boosted by the seven-goal haul last weekend.
Speaking to the media during the week Drogheda Manager Tim Clancy said ‘’we were preparing all week for a very tough game against Waterford and then 36 hours before the match we had to take a completely different approach to the game when we heard they were fielding their Under-19s.
"It was a no-win situation for us. We knew we still had to be very professional in our approach. We made sure we had a good tempo even in the warm up and we played with great energy in the first half and moved the ball very well.’’
In relation to Jack Tuite’s departure from the club, Clancy said ‘’Jack came to me recently about his lack of game time. I told him there is a lot of competition for defensive positions, and now that COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted and with Jack being a personal trainer with a lot of his income being generated at evening time, he decided to take a step back from football.
"I totally understand that, he has been absolutely fantastic for us since he joined the club.’’
Drogheda will be very mindful of what happened in their previous encounter with the Saints at the end of March when they conceded a 90th minute Billy King goal to lose 2-1 at Richmond Park. They will be anxious to use home advantage on Friday night to reverse that result and maintain their own excellent start to the season.
ST. PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
The Saints will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s late loss to league leaders Shamrock Rovers when they visit Drogheda on Friday.
Pats lost their unbeaten record this season when they were beaten 2-1 by the Hoops last weekend with a Danny Mandroiu 92ndminute stoppage time goal securing all three points for Rovers.
Chris Forrester got Pats off to the best possible start in that game with a goal in the fourth minute but they were unable to hold onto that lead up to the break and Rovers’ Graham Burke got the equaliser a few minutes before half time.
The Inchicore side would probably have considered a draw a good outcome and they almost succeeded in that objective until Mandroiu took advantage of a defensive mistake by Lee Desmond in extra-time to run from the half way line and slot the ball past ‘keeper Vitezslav Jaros.
Speaking to the St. Pats media team this week, Head Coach Stephen O’Donnell said “we did not get a positive result last Saturday but I thought in the second half a lot of what we wanted to do we did very well. It was unfortunate we conceded so late in the game.
There were plenty of positives to be taken from the match and now it’s all about focussing on the game against Drogheda on Friday.’’
Chris Forrester was named the SSE Airtricity / Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for March/ April and is the lynchpin of the Pats team so far this season. Back at Richmond Park following spells at Peterborough United and Aberdeen, the Dubliner is enjoying his football again after some difficulties off the pitch.
Discussing Forrester’s contribution to their great start to the season, O’Donnell added ‘’he has played every minute of every game so far this season, bar the Derry game where we were 2-0 up against 10 men and we took him off with seven minutes left.
"It is testament to him because it has been a very hectic schedule so far. Everybody knows what he can do and what his output is so now it’s a matter of Chris training well, continuing to do what he has been doing and enjoying his football.‘’
The defeat to Rovers last Saturday meant that their closest rivals have now opened up a five-point gap at the top of the table so Pats will be looking for all three points against Drogheda in order to ensure they keep the pressure on the title favourites who don’t play till Saturday evening (home to Derry City).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
The Athletic have generally had the upper hand on Drogheda in clashes between these two sides. They have won three of the last five encounters between the teams, and only lost once back in July 2017; the other game between the sides in February 2019 was a 0-0 draw.
Chris Forrester and Ronan Coughlan are joint top scorers for Pats this season with three goals apiece.
Chris Lyons leads the way at Drogheda’s Head in The Game Park with five goals and he is the joint top scorer in the Premier Division (alongside Finn Harps’ Adam Foley).
Drogheda 3/1; Draw 11/5; St. Patrick’s Athletic 10/11
Drogheda 0 – 2 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Mark Hughes
Doubtful: Hugh Douglas, Dinny Corcoran.
St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Cian Kelly
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