Finn Harps come into the fourth game of the season having played admirably in their first three games back in the top flight.
Having lost narrowly to Bohemians on the opening day, the next week saw them holding Champions Dundalk to a 1-1 draw at home followed by a 0-0 draw away at St. Patrick’s Athletic on Monday.
Harps will look to transform their encouraging displays against some of the league’s stronger teams into three points against a Sligo team that have only managed a single draw from their first three games.
Ollie Horgan’s men have proven difficult to break down in defence, but their lack of attacking threat means they have only scored one goal so far in three games, defender Keith Cowan’s header against Dundalk.
The Harps’ manager is wary of the threat the visitors bring, noting that they themselves have been unlucky to only register one point so far.
“Sligo might only have a point on the board but they will feel hard done by because they only lost to St Pat’s when Mikey Drennan got a very late goal at the Showgrounds last Friday night.,” he told the club’s website.
“Liam Buckley is building a new side, but he’ll be pushing for a place well up the table come the business end of the season. From what I know of their new players there is genuine quality there so it’s up to us to be really up for the game tomorrow night.”
Harps will have do to without the services of Harry Ascroft and Mark Timlin who remain out injured. Meanwhile Last year’s player of the year Sam Todd has emerged as a doubt.
Harps’ squad has seen a couple of changes of late with the arrival of defender Mark Russell just in time for the game on Monday night where he was an unused substitute.
As well as this Sam Verdon has completed a return to Longford Town after a short spell with the club.
Sligo Rovers, similar to their North-West rivals, have had a tough start to the league with their only point registered coming in a home draw against Dundalk, the same as Harps, in their opening fixture.
The Bit O’Red were unfortunate to lose to a last-minute Mikey Drennan winner at home to St. Pats the next week before another narrow loss to Cork City on Monday night.
Sligo boss Liam Buckley will feel as though the results do not match their gutsy performances against three of the stronger teams in the league and will be hoping to turn the Bit o’ Red’s fortunes around when they travel to Finn Park.
Buckley has lifted his side’s spirits after Monday’s defeat and look to get a result against a dogged Finn Harps side.
“I think you can expect a hard game anywhere you go in this league. It’s a real scrap in every match,” he told Sligo’s website.
“Finn Harps will not be easier than Pat’s or Cork, and I think that has already been shown.
“What I want from us is to be better in creating opportunities and remember just how much you need to dig in.
“We didn’t get a reward over the two games last week, but that reward will come if we keep working.
“There is a lot more to come from these players and we want to get the reward on Friday. It’ll only come by earning it.”
Sligo have had their share of injury troubles of late, with Regan Donelon out and Johnny Dunleavy and Ronan Coughlan to have late fitness tests.
On the plus side, Ronan Murray looks like a possible return with a decision being taken on the day, and David Cawley’s appearance on the bench on Monday will also provide a boost.
Referee: Derek Michael Tomney
In the last five matches between the sides Finn Harps have only won once, with Sligo Rovers picking up two wins away at Finn Park and two draws being played out at The Showgrounds.
Former Sligo Rovers players Caolan McAleer and Raffaele Cretaro could play a key role for Harps. McAleer spent the 2018 season with the club whereas Cretaro spent 10 years at the club over the course of two stints, becoming a club legend.
Sligo Rovers have an average squad age of 24 giving them a slight experience advantage over a youthful Harps, who have an average age of just 22 years old.
Finn Harps: 23/15; Draw: 11/5; Sligo Rovers: 2/1
Injured: Harry Ascroft, Mark Timlin
Doubtful: Sam Todd
Injured: Regan Donelon, Johnny Dunleavy
Doubtful: Ronan Coughlan, Ronan Murray