League Preview: Drogheda United -v- Dundalk
The first Louth Derby is upon us as Drogheda United welcome neighbours Dundalk to Weavers Park on Thursday evening in the League of Ireland Premier Division.
The Boynesiders enter the game after a hard earned 1-0 away win over UCD last Friday night courtesy of Emmanuel Adegboyega’s first goal in senior football.
It’s been an impressive start to the season for Kevin Doherty’s side, picking up eight points from their opening five games to lift them to fifth in the early Premier Division table and level with Dundalk in third place.
Drogs’ only defeat came away to table toppers Bohemians while they have also drawn at home to Shamrock Rovers.
Defensively, Thursday’s hosts have been solid, keeping three clean sheets thus far.
Doherty looks set to be without defender Ben Curtis who has picked up a hamstring injury while he will sweat on the fitness of Adam Foley – who pulled up in the warm up at UCD Bowl – Aaron McNally and Matthew O’Brien.
This will be the second time both sides have faced each other this year after a 0-0 draw in the Jim Malone Cup before Drogheda won on penalties.
Home form proved pivotal in this fixture last season with both sides winning both of their home games.
The games proved to be tight at Weavers Park with Drogheda edging both games 1-0 while they found the going tougher at Oriel Park going down 4-1 and 2-0.
Drogheda can move into third place with a win before Friday night’s fixtures.
The Lilywhites have picked up form after losing 2-1 to Bohemians, collecting seven points from their three games over the last seven days, including a gallant scoreless draw with Derry City at the Brandywell after home wins over St Patrick’s Athletic and Shelbourne.
Louie Annesley and Paul Doyle are both doubts while Peter Cherrie is available again following a family bereavement which ruled him out of the 0-0 draw with Derry last Friday.
John Mountney remains a long-term absentee.
Dundalk manager Stephen O’Donnell is expecting a tough game on Thursday and has been drilling it into some of the new signings what the game means locally.
“Drogheda is always a tough place to go, as it proved last year when we got turned over twice. They’ve had a great start to the season and both teams are going into the game in good form so it has all the makings of a really good Louth Derby and we’re looking forward to it,” manager Stephen O’Donnell said, speaking to the club’s media team
“We’ve been giving the newer lads a little bit of information in the sense that this game is a little bit different. It’s a derby and one we’re all eagerly anticipating. We’re going to bring really good support and, as I said, it has all the makings of a really good, high-tempo game.
“We drew in Derry last Friday and the only good way to back up a draw is to go and win your next game. If we do that, four points from the last two games is a decent return whereas if we don’t, it’ll be a disappointing return.
“Thursday’s game will be totally different from the one in Derry in terms of the structure of the teams, the style of game, the size of the pitch…all those things into account but that’s what makes the league so good. There are different challenges that you have to try and overcome.”
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Clubs are level on points as they face into the 172nd competitive meeting between the sides.172nd competitive meeting
Both clubs only defeats have come away to Bohemians so far this season.
Drogheda are looking for three successive home wins versus Dundalk.
Injured: Ben Curtis.
Doubtful: Aaron McNally, Adam Foley, Matthew O’Brien.
Injured: John Mountney (Knee)
Doubtful: Louie Annesley (illness), Paul Doyle (knee)