Wexford Youths host Drogheda United in the first leg of the promotion/relegation play-off at Ferrycarrig Park on Monday night.
The home side head into the first leg of the play-off off the back of a run which saw them pick up just one win from their last ten league games. That victory came in a 5-4 victory over Galway United in the second week of October in a game where Youths had lead 5-0, until Galway scored four goals in thirteen minutes.
That win meant Wexford still had a slim chance of finishing tenth and maintaining their Premier Division status for another year. However, a 0-0 draw the following week with Finn Harps all but sealed Youths fate of a play-off spot.
Back-to-back 5-0 defeats at the hands of Cork City and Sligo Rovers now mean that Shane Keegan's side head into the first leg of the play-off having conceded ten and scored zero in their last three games.
Despite that, Keegan, who was in attendance at the second leg of the First Division play-off at United Park on Friday evening told www.wexfordyouthsfc.ie that he has full faith that his side will produce the goods against Drogheda.
"We're really looking forward to the games. We knew from day one that there was a strong chance that we could find ourselves in the play-off, so from a mindset side of things that's probably a help."
"Drogheda are an excellent side and probably head into the games as favourites, but we've prepared very well and we're confident that we're up to the challenge."
"We want to continue to prove ourselves at this level so it's up to us to go out and produce the goods when it's most needed and I have full faith that that is exactly what we will do."
Keegan has no injury or suspension worries ahead of the game, meaning he will have a fully fit squad to choose from.
Drogheda United progressed to the promotion/relegation play-off against Wexford thanks to a second half strike from Gareth McCaffrey in a 2-1 defeat to Cobh Ramblers in the First Division play-off second leg.
Despite that defeat on Friday, the Boynesiders went through 3-2 on aggregate after they had won the first leg 2-0 in Cobh six days earlier.
Drogheda seen their two goal advantage wiped out within 8 minutes at United Park, thanks to early strikes from Conor Ellis and Shane O'Connor for Cobh. However, McCaffrey's second half strike, his sixth in his ten appearances since joining on loan meant Drogheda would progress, much to the relief of the Drogheda fans and manager Pete Mahon.
“Relief is definitely the word that comes to mind. We made a very nervous start and Cobh were exceptional. We couldn’t get a foothold in the game and then Stephen McGuinness made a fantastic save just before half-time to stop us from going behind in the tie,” Mahon told www.droghedaunited.ie.
“We showed good character after the break to compose ourselves and get the goal that we needed.”
Mahon is expecting a tough test from Wexford Youths, saying the tie against the Premier Division side will give Drogheda a good indication of where they are at as a club.
“Wexford have quite a big side so we are preparing for a direct approach from them. There’s obviously a lot riding on the game, but it’ll be a good indication of where we are at as a football club on the pitch going against a Premier Division side.”
With Sean Brennan available following his three game ban, Mahon like Keegan has a full strength squad to choose from and insists his side are going to Wexford with the aim of winning the game.
“We want the tie to still be alive at United Park on Friday, but we won’t be setting up tomorrow to sit back. We might be pushed back at certain stages of the game but our goal tomorrow will be to score and win the game. If we play like we have against UCD and the first game against Cobh, I’m confident we’ll get the right result over the two legs.”
Referee: Ray Matthews
Wexford scored 31 goals in 33 league games this season. 12 of those 33 goals came in the three games, Youths scored more than two goals against Bohemians (3), Longford (4) and Galway (5).
Meanwhile, Drogheda, who themselves also only scored more than two goals in a game three times this season, found the back of the net 45 times in their 28 First Division and two play-off games.
Wexford and Drogheda have never played in the same division of Irish football with the only two meetings between the sides coming in a 1-0 FAI Cup victory for Drogheda in 2012 and a 2-0 pre-season friendly victory for Wexford.
Wexford Youths 11/8; Draw 11/5; Drogheda United 13/8.
Wexford Youths 1-2 Drogheda United.