Joint Premier Division leaders Derry City play host to fourth place St Patricks Athletic in what is sure to be an open and exciting game on Friday at The Brandywell. (Kick off, 7.45pm)
Derry resume their campaign after the break on the back of a tremendous run of form, winning five and drawing one of their last six fixtures and have only conceded three goals all season in the league at The Brandywell. They will have to come to terms, however, with the loss of their creative lynchpin James McClean who has signed for Steve Bruce’s Sunderland, and Gareth McGlynn who sustained a slight tear in his medial ligament while representing the Airtricity XI a fortnight ago. Stephen McLaughlin looks like the man to fill McCleans’ boots and in Eamon Zayed they have a striker who is only one shy of his 20th league goal of the season.
St Pats, on the other hand, have only garnered two victories from their last ten starts, and have had the added distraction of the well documented row over European bonuses and expenses to contend with. They will also have to cope with the suspensions of Gary Rogers and Shane McFaul who were both dismissed in last weeks 2-2 draw with U.C.D. However the form of Daryl Kavanagh will be a worry for Stephen Kenny.
Kenny commented, “The two games this season have been really open games. We have three tough games coming up against Pat’s, Bohs and Sligo so we need to show our team spirit. We have lost two of our best players so we’ll just have to go and show what we’re made of collectively. We have conceded only three goals in twelve home games which is exceptional. The entire back four have done well as has Gerard Doherty but Stewart Graecen has been immense for us. He has shown real leadership and has been very commanding”.
Pete Mahon is also expecting an open affair and said, “The one all draw in Richmond Park was probably the game of the season and the one in Derry earlier was a quality game too so I’m expecting something similar although every game throws up new challenges. I think this is our 38th competitive game this season and it’s only early August so the big challenge has been to try and keep the players fresh and rotate the squad so the players can get a rest.”
With so much at stake at the business end of the table, it’s a tough game to call, but I think with present form and home advantage factored in, the Candystripes will nick a home win, 2-1.
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