Date: 7:45 p.m. Oct. 15, 2010
Venue: Morton Stadium
They go into this game on the back of two very good performances against Pat's and former league leaders Shamrock Rovers, who had both taken the lead over the Santry-based outfit, but Liam Buckley's charges showed great spirit to fight back and come away with four points from a possible six, which is a credible return by any team's standards.
Indeed, the late goals in The Tallaght Stadium last Saturday from Glen Crowe and Garry O'Neill looks like it may well swing the league title in the direction of Bohemians, and it may also be the boost that Fingal need at just the right time in the season. They will go into this clash with The Tribesmen with just one injury doubt, which surrounds centre-back Shaun Maher, who has only recently overcome an ankle injury, but suffered a fresh set-back this week, and may not make it in time for Friday's clash.
One man they definitely will be without is the team captain Shaun Williams, who will sit out this game with a one-match suspension due to an accumulation of bookings. However, striker Eamon Zayed will be available again after returning from international duty with Libya, which will give Buckley some much needed options.
Speaking to sportingfingal.ie during the week, Buckley was understandably delighted with the results picked up in the last two games, but was also pleased with the application levels of his players during these encounters.
"Assessing the last two results against St. Patrick's Athletic and Shamrock Rovers collectively, I'm very happy with a four-point haul. I was thrilled with the application levels from my players in both games given the test of character required in facing two of the top three sides in the table back-to-back", Buckley stated.
"Much attention has centred on the supposed late collapse by Shamrock Rovers in last week's match, which I believe does my players some disservice. At 1-0 down ten minutes from time, we went three at the back - just like against Pat's seven days prior - and created a few chances towards the end resulting in two goals. I know from dealing with my players, they're not the type to be daunted by facing Rovers on their home patch. There was a game to be won and we achieved that. Doing so in the last minute doesn't undervalue the three points in my opinion".
Buckley did feel that the previous week's game against Pat's felt like two points dropped initially, but in hindsight could actually prove to be vital in their quest for Europa League qualification.
"Drawing against Pat's felt at the time like two points dropped but, considering the wider context of our tussle with them and Sligo Rovers for third and fourth spots, it wasn't a bad result, as I knew further points would be dropped by teams. Three games from the finish, we’re still in with a decent shout of Europa League qualification. What a massive feat it would be for young club like Sporting Fingal to secure European football for a second year running. It’s all nine points we’re aiming for to give the best possible chance of landing one of those spots", Buckley added.
While Fingal are in fine form coming into this game, the opposite could be said about United, who have only picked up two points from their last six league games. Though there is not mathematically impossible that they could finish ahead of UCD in the final league table, it would seem that Galway are destined to battle it out with Bray Wanderers in a relegation play-off at the end of the season.
Going into this match, they will continue to be without the services of goalkeeper Barry Ryan (who is serving the second of a two-game ban), while midfielder Stephen O'Donnell is recovering from surgery to fix a long-standing injury.
Speaking to galwayunitedfc.ie, boss Connor was not hiding his disappointment at losing out 4-1 to UCD last time out, and also lamented the lack of options that he currently has in his squad.
"It is very difficult to take because if you analyse the first half against UCD we had 70 per cent possession, had a goal disallowed, and had numerous half chances before they scored. They scored totally against the run of play which killed us. Again we were positive after they scored, Barry Ryan has been a big loss and 17 goals in four games speaks for itself", Connor remarked.
"If you take two players out of my team, it is a catastrophe. If Pat Fenlon has a problem up front, he has several players to choose from, I have one recognised striker at the club, Karl Sheppard.”
With just a couple of weeks left in the season, Connor is hoping to re-discover the drive and determination that was such a crucial part of their performances in wins over UCD (in Belfield), Drogheda United and Bohemians.
"I thought we started brightly against UCD, we went behind, but kept going. Then in the second half we threw in the towel and that is more worrying for me than anything else. A few of them stopped chasing and that is something I will have to address", Connor concluded.
Given the form of the two teams, it would seem that Sporting Fingal should be the favourites to win this game but, on their day, Galway can be a tough proposition for any side to face, and their away form has been quite strong at times this season.
Nonetheless, with the prospect of European football on the cards for Sporting, it is more likely that a home victory will be the outcome from this contest.
Venue: Morton Stadium, Santry.
Referee: D. Hancock.
Paddypower.com odds: Sporting Fingal 2/7, Galway United 9/1, Draw 4/1.
Doubtful: Shaun Maher.
Suspended: Shaun Williams.
Injured: Stephen O'Donnell.
Suspended: Barry Ryan.
Extratime.ie prediction: Sporting Fingal 2-1 Galway United.