Sligo Rovers’ final game before the summer break sees the visit of Cork City to the Showgrounds (kick-off 7.45pm).
Just two points separate sixth-placed Sligo from eighth-placed City going into the game, while a win could potentially see the Bit o’ Red leapfrog St Patrick’s Athletic into fifth.
A late show at Richmond Park last week saw Sligo pick up a point against the Saints, with Jack Keaney’s 80th-minute opener cancelled out by Kevin Toner a minute later.
Manager Liam Buckley expects just as tight an encounter on Friday night as a dogged and improving City side arrive at the Connacht stadium.
“These are games where it’s hard and you have to fight and dig in,” Buckley told the club’s official website.
“Outworking your opponent is key to coming out on top and both teams will know that. That’s the basic for any match in this division.
“We put in a good shift last week and while it was disappointing not to come away the win, the endeavour was good and we’ll look for that again.
“We had a bad start in the game in The Showgrounds for 10 minutes but from then on we competed well and could have got something from the game.
“It was a hard game in Cork and we came away with a point and I have no doubt how hard it will be again.
“We feel we are capable of improving on the game earlier in the year and have the players in our ranks to create something and take the chances to come away with a win.”
Sligo will be without defenders Kyle McFadden and Dante Leverock due to suspension and international duty respectively, while Regan Donelon and John Dunleavy are doubts.
Leverock misses out as he captains Bermuda at the Gold Cup in the United States, but defensive partner John Mahon returns from a ban.
Cork City head to the Showgrounds on Friday night knowing a win could see them go into the midseason break in sixth position.
It’s been a tumultuous season for City that’s seen the departure of manager John Caulfield but the ship has been steadied somewhat under the guidance of caretaker John Cotter.
Unlike Sligo, the Rebel Army have had a week off to prepare for the game with last week’s game with Waterford postponed due to the Blues’ international call-ups.
Coincidentally, Cork’s last game was also a 1-1 draw away to St Patrick’s Athletic, as Simon Madden’s injury-time strike cancelled out Karl Sheppard’s opener.
“Sligo is always tough, but we’ve had a decent record away from home this year,” Cotter said at the club’s weekly media briefing.
“Whether you’re in Turner’s Cross or away from home, the main thing is that you do your work and that you’re prepared for it.
“The last couple of weeks have given us a chance to do that, so hopefully on Friday we can put in a performance, play well and come away with a result.”
Seán McLoughlin and Conor McCormack are both suspended, while Cian Murphy, Shane Griffin and Pierce Phillips miss out with injury.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Sligo Rovers and Cork City have met twice so far this season, with the Rebel Army taking four points from the two encounters.
The first meeting, at the Showgrounds in February, saw goals from Seán McLoughlin and Gearóid Morrissey earn City a first league win of the season.
The return game, at Turner’s Cross in April, finished scoreless.
Sligo Rovers 11/5; Draw 1/2; Cork City 13/10.
Sligo Rovers 1 – 0 Cork City
Doubtful: Regan Donelon, Johnny Dunleavy.
Suspended: Kyle Callan-McFadden.
Unavailable: Dante Leverock (international duty).
Injured: Shane Griffin, Cian Murphy, Pierce Phillips.
Suspended: Conor McCormack, Seán McLoughlin.