Inconsistent Shelbourne will take on the challenge of second from bottom Finn Harps in a vital fixture in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division at Tolka Park on Saturday evening (KO 7:30PM).
Shels will be looking to put further daylight between themselves and the drop zone with an important home win over the Harps in Drumcondra on Saturday evening.
Ian Morris’ side will be trying to erase the painful memories last Friday night’s disappointing 3-2 defeat against the champions Dundalk at Oriel Park.
The Lilywhites came out of the blocks flying and took the lead after only four minutes with a stunning strike from Michael Duffy.
Before Shelbourne had time to catch their breath Brian Gartland doubled the home sides lead with a bullet header from a Sean Murray corner with just ten minutes on the clock.
Dundalk were threatening to run riot but to Shels credit they regrouped and got themselves back into the game with Daniel Byrne halving the deficit in the 20th minute to give them hope and then the comeback was complete just four minutes later when Georgie Poynton netted from the spot when Gartland was adjudged to have upended Ciaran Kilduff in the penalty area.
It was end to end stuff after that until Greg Sloggett produced another moment of magic after 59 minutes with a stupendous goal worthy of winning any game to the delight of the home side and despite a valiant effort to grab the equaliser by Shels Dundalk held out for the win.
This was Shelbourne’s first defeat in 5 matches in all competitions with three draws in the league against Derry City (1-1), Shamrock Rovers (0-0), and Cork City (1-1) with their solitary victory coming in a 5-2 win over Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park in the Extra.ie FAI Cup.
Shelbourne boss Ian Morris knows the significance of the game against Finn Harps telling Shelbourne’s Patreon, “There’s no getting away from how big Saturday’s game against Finn Harps is in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division.”
Morris is expecting a real challenge will be posed by the Harps but feels confident saying, “It’s going to be a tough game, Ollie (Horgan) will be bringing his team down expecting to win the game. We’re really looking forward to the game though. It’s a big game. A six pointer.”
Morris is hoping that all the hard work on the training pitch will pay off saying, “The confidence in the players in the top of the pitch has been great and it’s something we’ve been working on.”
Shels boss Morris has a fully fit squad from which to select from and has no suspensions to contend with.
Ollie Horgan’s men will make the arduous journey to the capital hopeful that they can upset the odds and pick up a vital win to close the gap between themselves and Shels in order to boost their chances of maintaining their Premier Division status.
Harps picked up another valuable point at home last Sunday afternoon with a 0-0 draw in the Northern derby against Derry City at Finn Park.
In truth, it was a truly forgettable encounter with little or no highlights and will not be a match that will live long in the memory but Ollie Horgan will be pleased with the battling qualities his side displayed to earn a another point which is crucial considering the precarious position the Harps find themselves in.
Despite that Finn Harps have been on a decent run of form as of late with just one defeat in their last four competitive matches which has included two wins against Waterford (2-3) at the RSC in the league and a 2-0 win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds in the Extra.ie FAI Cup with the defeat coming at the hands of Sligo Rovers (3-1) at the Showgrounds.
Speaking to Finn Harps TV ahead of the game Stephen Folan said that Harps must get the basics right if they’re to get a result from their trip to the capital.
“Shelbourne came up here after the restart and beat us, probably deservedly so. We just need to go there with the belief we can win. We need to get up the pitch, win the second balls and really take care of the basics. If we can do that and play with a bit of belief and confidence we’ll be alright.”
Mark Timlin will miss the game through injury.
Referee: Sean Grant
Shelbourne and Finn Harps have already locked horns once this season at Finn Park in August with the Drumcondra side coming out on top with a narrow 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Ryan Brennan on the half hour.
Shels and the Harps have met each on 27 occasions in all competitions since the 2005 season with Shelbourne having the better head to head record with 13 wins to Finn Harps’ 7 and there was 7 draws.
Shels scored 40 goals in total averaging 1.48 per game while the Harps scored 20 goals averaging 0.74 per game.
Shelbourne EVS; Draw 2/1; Finn Harps 13/5.
Shelbourne 2-1 Finn Harps
Injured: Mark Timlin.