League Preview: Shelbourne -v- Drogheda United
- Gerard Grimes
- Thu, Jul 21 2016
Shelbourne play host to Drogheda United at Tolka Park on Friday evening as Owen Heary's men look to pull themselves within four points of a play-off position.
Since Heary took over from Kevin Doherty as manager of Shelbourne at the end of June, his side have won two and lost one. In his first game in charge at home to Cobh Ramblers, he watched his side run pick up an impressive 2-0 victory.
However, just a week later, the complete opposite would happen as a poor Shels' performance seen them lose 1-0 away to struggling Athlone Town. Heary, who has made significant changes to the Shelbourne squad in recent weeks, then made it two from two at Tolka Park as his side defeated Cabinteely.
This week alone, Shels have signed four players and released three with Adam Evans perhaps being the pick of the new signings, having signed following his release from Bohemians.
Joining Evans at Tolka Park are former Athlone defender Jack Tuite and defender Michael Kelly from Killester United while Mikey Murphy has been promoted to the senior team from the club's U-19 team.
Four players have left, in the shape of Sodiq Oguntola, Alan Kehoe, former Drogheda player Bobby O'Reilly and Ajibola Sule, who only signed for club just over a month ago.
Drogheda, like Shelbourne, come into this game off the back of a number of mixed results. Since the mid-season break, Pete Mahon's man have lost two, both to play-off rivals UCD and Cobh Ramblers while they have won two, beating Waterford and Athlone 2-0 and 1-0 respectively.
Speaking to the club website about what was an unconvincing victory, but a vital three points against Athlone, Mahon said: “It was very important for us to pick up the three points but we know we can play much better.
“You have to give credit to Athlone because they made it very difficult for us, even when they went down to 10 men, they were very well organised.”
Drogheda currently sit third in the First Division table, a point behind UCD and three ahead of Cobh Ramblers, with those two sides playing each other on Saturday, meaning a reversal of the 3-0 defeat Drogheda suffered in Tolka Park in March would see Mahon's men, at least temporarily, jump to second.
Despite being seven points behind Drogheda, Mahon feels that new manager Owen Heary will have given Shels the confidence they need to make a challenge.
"With a good run of results, Shels could still make the play-offs so it’s a massive game for them. They picked up three points last week and the recent change of manager should give them some confidence so we need to start well and impose ourselves on the game.”
Mahon will have to do without the services of winger Adam Wixted, who looks set to be sidelined for a further 2-3 weeks.
However, Gareth McCaffrey is now clear to play for the Boynesiders', following his loan move from Shamrock Rovers while new signing John McKeown, from Longford Town may be available, pending registration.
Referee: Sean Grant.
Shelbourne and Drogheda hold the best defences in the First Divison, after runaway leaders Limerick, with Drogheda conceding 20 goals in 17 games while Shelbourne have conceded 24.
In their nine home league games this season, Shelbourne have won four, drawn one and lost four. One of those victories was a 3-0 victory over Drogheda while Owen Heary is holds a 100% win record after his first two home league games.
Drogheda, on the other hand, have won just two of their eight away games this season, drawing four and losing two. The two victories came away to Waterford and Athlone while the two defeats were at the hands of Shelbourne and Cobh Ramblers.
Shelbourne 7/5; Draw 23/10; Drogheda United 19/10.
Shelbourne 1-1 Drogheda United.
Injured: Adam Wixted.
Doubtful: John McKeown (pending registration).
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