League Preview: Shelbourne -v- Waterford United
- Fran Reilly
- Thu, Jun 23 2016
League of Ireland action returns this Friday and Tolka Park will play host to two sides looking to fight their way back into the First Division promotion play-off hunt, with Shelbourne hosting Waterford United (kick off 7:15pm).
Kevin Doherty will be hoping Shelbourne return reinvigorated for the rest of the campaign after the three week break. The Reds had an excellent spell from the second half of April into the beginning of May where they won four from five league games.
The Reds also beat Bohemians on penalties in the EA Sports Cup before exiting the competition in the following round against another Dublin rival, Shamrock Rovers, this time losing narrowly in another shootout. They seemed to recover well, defeating Cabinteely 4-0 at Stradbrook Road the following week to maintain their league decent form.
However, Shelbourne lost four times in a row before the mid-season break, including a 2-0 defeat to Dundalk to bow out of the FAI Cup. The performance against the current cup holders and Premier Division champions was encouraging, though, as it was in the 4-3 defeat to Limerick in Tolka Park the following week.
When Doherty spoke to Extratime.ie after the Limerick game, his frustration with those performances not translating into tangible results was obvious. That mood will not have been helped when Shels fell to a 2-0 defeat away to UCD the following week in what was the last game before the break.
That poor run of results saw the Reds slip down to fifth in the table, just above their next opponents, Waterford United, on goal-difference and five points off the third-placed Students. Mark Sandford and Gareth Coughlan have left the club, but Doherty will be hoping that the recent signing of Aji Sule from Bluebell United can help Shels return to form. Shels have no injury concerns ahead of the game.
When Waterford United travel to Tolka Park on Friday, they will be seeking to put aside the off-field issues which have dogged their campaign to date. Blues players learned they wouldn't receive their weekly wages before their 4-0 defeat to Cobh Ramblers, while an independent consultant has been appointed by the FAI to address the issues surrounding the club.
This all came in the aftermath of long-serving chairman John O'Sullivan stepping down. A three-month long GoFundMe.com campaign was started by fans in order to raise the money the club needs to get its three teams – first-team, u19s and u17s – through the remainder of the current campaign. It has raised €7,332 of an €80,000 target to date.
On the field, Roddy Collins' men have been a mixed bag. They've managed to beat UCD 3-1 on two occasions, yet threw away a 3-0 lead against struggling Athlone Town in early April, eventually drawing 3-3. Waterford haven't played since the end of May after Athlone failed to field a team for their June 3rd clash, for which the Blues were awarded the three points.
With the mid-season break behind them, Collins will be hoping that things turn around on and off the pitch. He has reshuffled his squad with Darren Murphy, Eoin Rhodes, Colum Nugent, Jimmy Dermody and Dean Broaders all departing the RSC. Meanwhile, Robert Bayly and David Osario have joined and Cory Galvin and Mikie Rowe have returned.
Both sides have identical records in the First Division going into this game: P13 W5 D1 L7. Shelbourne are ahead in the table by virtue of goal-difference (+2 to Waterford's -7).
Waterford (25 goals) have scored more than Shelbourne (22) but have also conceded far more too (32 to Shels' 20).
A James English hat-trick helped Shels beat Waterford 4-1 at the RSC back in April in the side's only other meeting so far in 2016. Jamie Doyle netted the Reds' other goal while Eoin Rhodes netted the Blues' consolation.
Shelbourne 5/6; Draw 5/2; 11/4.
Shelbourne United 2-1 Waterford United.
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