League Preview: Shelbourne -v- Athlone Town

Fri, Oct 08 2021
Shelbourne fans celebrate as their team win the 2021 First Division

Shelbourne fans celebrate as their team win the 2021 First Division Credit: Paul Dolan (ETPhotos)

First Division Champions Shelbourne welcome sixth placed Athlone Town to Tolka Park on Friday night (kick-off 7:45pm).

SHELBOURNE          

Shelbourne secured the First Division title and a return to the top flight at the first time of asking with a cagey 1-0 win over Treaty United last week.

A Georgie Poynton spot kick was enough to bring the title to Drumcondra and see the club bounce back from their relegation last season.

Despite the promotion, Shelbourne manager Ian Morris insists he wants no let up in performances and is looking for three wins out of the next three games.  

“We’ll be playing as if nothing is done yet and I’m sure the players will be looking to impress. There’s three big games left to play,” Morris told shelbournefc.ie.

“We want to impress our fans. The atmosphere was electric on Friday and we’re hoping it’s going to be same again.

“We want to score goals, keep clean sheets and training this week has been no different to any other week,” he added.

The Shels manager admitted he allowed a small celebration on Saturday but it’s business as usual since then and focus is fully on Athlone Town.

“They’ve got real pace and really can give people a game. They know they need to win the game so it will be a good game.”

On the injury front. Denzil Fernandes will undergo a fitness test while Gerardo Bruna and JJ Lunney have both resumed non-contact training.  

Left-back Kameron Ledwidge will miss Friday’s game due to international duty with Republic of Ireland U21s.

ATHLONE TOWN

Athlone Town come into the game on the back of a 2-1 win at home to Cabinteely. An injury-time goal from captain Kurtis Byrne handed Town the three points after Ben Feeney had looked to save a point for Cabo with an 80th minute strike.

The question for Paul Doolin will be can his team now follow that up with another victory. The Midlanders have failed to have consistency in the league in recent months. You have to go back to April for the last time they managed back-to-back league wins.

In team news, Conor Barry is out injured but the rest of the squad is available for selection.

Referee: Rob Dowling

MATCH STATS

Shelbourne and Athlone Town first faced each other in the league during the 1922-23 season - A 0-0 draw and a 3-1 Shels victory.

The sides faced each other 12 times in the league up to 1928 – Shelbourne recorded nine victories and three draws. It wouldn’t be until 1970 that the sides would compete against each other in a league fixture.

Athlone Town got their first win against Shels on the 17th attempt – a 1-0 win in the 1971/72 season.

PREDICTION

2-1 home win 

Shelbourne

Injured: Gerardo Bruna, JJ Lunney 

Doubtful: Denzil Fernandes

International Call-up: Kameron Ledwidge

Suspended: None

Athlone Town

Injured: Conor Barry

Doubtful: None

Suspended: None

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