Two of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division’s in-form sides will go head-to-head at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday evening, when Bray Wanderers welcome Derry City to the seaside.
Something will have to give at the Carlisle when two of the leagues’ most impressive unbeaten records will be risked against one another. Bray, who are unbeaten in their last eight games - since last facing off against the Candystripes on May 29 – will be hoping to preserve their run at the expense of Derry’s own seven game streak.
What is more impressive than their consecutive matches without defeat is the improvements shown in the Seagulls’ defensive quarters, where the arrival of Tim Clancy from Sligo Rovers earlier this summer has helped Peter Cherrie and Conor Kenna to complete a near watertight back-line.
During this aforementioned hot-streak, the Wanderers have only conceded on two occasions, with just one of these – Daryl Horgan’s opener in the victory over Dundalk - being from open play, while the other came courtesy of a Gary McCabe penalty.
Goals, at times, have proven to be a concern for Harry Kenny’s side this year, but the returning Chris Lyons got off the mark in his second spell at his hometown club in last week’s win at Galway United, which will provide Ger Pender with some competition for a place in the starting XI.
There was good news in the Seagulls camp this week as Dylan Connolly received a call-up to Noel King’s Ireland Under-21 squad for the upcoming UEFA Euro U21 Championship qualifiers, and will no doubt be looking to justify his selection with an impressive performance on Saturday.
Third-placed Derry have surprised many with their impressive 2016 campaign to date, and will be keen to add to their 43 points to keep the pressure on both Cork City and Dundalk who lead the way in the Premier Division.
Rory Patterson, as ever, has been among the goals this calendar year (10) and is also the third most prolific striker in the division, behind just David Macmillan (13) and Vinny Faherty (11).
Speaking ahead of the game, Candystripes boss Kenny Shiels spoke highly of their hosts, admitting their recent form has impressed him.
“The last eight games they have been really good. I have to say that,” Shiels said to DerryCityFC.net.
“They have good players and a big squad. They have beaten Dundalk at home 2-0 [sic] and they have travelled to beat Galway 2-0; those are fantastic results, they really are.
“It’s a tough game. You just have to look at their results to see how well they have done.”
Shiels will have two new signings to add to his matchday squad this week as Cristian Castells and Austrian defender Maximilian Karner join the team for competitive action after featuring in a friendly played behind closed doors against Coleraine earlier in the week.
Referee: Sean Grant.
On May 29, the last time the two sides met, Derry inflicted a 2-0 defeat upon Bray, who have since gone on a remarkable unbeaten streak of eight games.
Saturday’s visitors also came out on top in their most recent visit to County Wicklow; when they secured a 3-0 away win at the Carlisle in March.
In their three meetings last season, both sides claimed one win each while the other game ended scoreless, with Bray picking up the three points when they hosted Derry in July 2015.
Bray Wanderers 9/4; Draw 2/1; Derry City 13/10.
Both sides’ runs to cancel one another out. Score draw.
Injured: Aaron Barry, Ryan McBride