Just like when the sides last met in March, Friday will see second versus fourth in the table. Sligo Rovers were second in the table in the team's last encounter and led 2-0 at half time in Tallaght, only for fourth placed Hoops to rally to draw 2-2.
Since then the Bit O’ Red’s form has dipped while the Hoops have gathered momentum so that come kick off in the Showgrounds at 7.45pm on Friday, it is the home side who are in fourth place and Shamrock Rovers sitting in second just a point off league leaders Derry City.
Liam Buckley’s men followed up that draw in Tallaght with three losses and a draw but subsequent to that have two wins from their last two games – beating Finn Harps 1-0 away and Drogheda United 3-2 at home.
“We were delighted to get the three points against Drogheda last Saturday night,” said Buckley.
“I thought we played some nice stuff at times and we had to be patient and thankfully the goal came late on and we got the win.
“It should be a real good occasion on Friday night. There will be a big crowd and I know from previous experience how much this game means to both clubs.
"We had a tight encounter up in Tallaght last month and I have no doubt tomorrow night will be the same again.
“Shamrock Rovers are a real good side, they are in good form and we know how tough a test it will be for us but we have some great qualities ourselves and we’re looking forward to the game.”
The Hoops have the chance to go top of the table on Friday night. As the second placed side visit the Showgrounds, league leaders Derry City, who are top by a point, travel to Dublin to take on third placed St. Patrick’s Athletic.
Stephen Bradley’s side come into the game in Sligo in a rich vein of form having won four matches in a row – while earning three clean sheets - and are unbeaten in seven matches.
Last Friday night they had their biggest winning margin over Bohemians in a league game for five years, when they claimed a 3-1 victor at Dalymount Park.
Stephen Bradley spoke about that derby win saying “we all ll know that Dublin derbies are difficult fixtures, especially away from home but I felt that the players managed the game really well. We scored three goals and probably could have had a couple more, so we fully deserved the win. It was a really good night.
“We’ve had a few games this year where we’ve been really good early on but haven’t capitalised on it, but in Dalymount we obviously did. The only disappointing thing was that we didn’t add one or two more before half-time to really kill the game. But it’s pleasing that our performance in the first half was matched by two goals.”
Sligo Rovers held a 2-0 lead over the Hoops at half time in Tallaght when the teams last met through goals from Will Fitzgerald and Aidan Keena before Shamrock Rovers rallied to earn a draw after Graham Burke’s penalty and Adam McDonnell’s own goal.
“They’re dangerous in the attacking part of the pitch,” said Bradley reflecting on that game in Dublin 24. “They showed that in Tallaght. They made two or three chances and scored two goals, so we need to respect that and ready for that.
“We’re in a good spell at the moment but I feel we’ve been like that for quite some time. It’s just when you win games, your performances get highlighted even more. We’re doing OK but it would count for nothing if we don’t show up, respect the game and work extremely hard.”
Referee: Rob Harvey
The Hoops are unbeaten at the Showgrounds since May 2019 when the home side won 2-1 with goals from Daryl Fordyce and Jack Keaney either side of an Aaron Green goal for the visitors. Since then Stephen Bradley’s side have won twice and drawn the other two matches.
Sligo Rovers are the last team to beat Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium (back in May 2021).
Aidan Keena has scored five goals in total in the league and is in third in the league's scorers list behind the Derry City duo of Jamie McGonigle (7) and Will Pathcing (6).
Graham Burke and Andy Lyons are top scorers for the Hoops with four goals each.
2-1 away win
Doubtful: Max Mata
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