Saint Patrick's Athletic are back in FAI Ford Cup action this Friday as Liam Buckley's side make the short trip to the Carlisle Grounds to face Pat Devlin's Bray Wanderers side in the last 16 of the competition (kick-off 7.45pm).
Two months since their 5-0 win in Richmond Park over UCD in the second round of the competition, the Saints face the Seagulls in what is only one of three all Premier Division ties.
The Saints edge the head-to-head FAI Cup record between the sides 2-1, running out 1-0 winners in 1992 in Harold's Cross, while in 2001 Bray edged a tight game in Inchicore as a Philip Keogh strike gave Pat Devlin's side a 1-0 victory.
The last FAI Cup meeting between the sides in August 2007 was a classic cup thriller in the Carlisle Grounds, the Saints' 10 men coming out on top 2-1 thanks to a 94th minute winner from current Ireland international, Keith Fahey.
Speaking ahead of Friday's game, midfielder John Russell told stpatsfc.com of the ambition of the squad to get to the Aviva Stadium again for the cup final and that everyone was fully focused on reaching the quarter-finals by getting a result against Bray.
“Yeah from my side of things, I'm really looking forward to the game having missed last week's match,” Russell said, referring to the one match ban he served in the 1-0 win against Shelbourne. “We've definitely got the aim to get to the final again and hopefully go one better than last year.”
“Bray will be no pushovers though. They've a good mix of both young and experienced players who we know well, and I guess the cup gives them the opportunity to win silverware so we know they'll pose us a tough challenge. However if we perform to the best of our abilities on the night, we know we can progress.”
In team news, along with the return of Russell from suspension, the Saints welcome Shane McFaul back into contention after he returned to training this week having been out recently with a groin injury. Philly Hughes however is cup-tied and unavailable for selection. Elsewhere, Daryl Kavanagh is in line to reach the 50 game milestone for Pats should he make an appearance on Friday.
With the Saints having secured hard fought 1-0 and 2-0 wins in the league to date, Saints' manager Liam Buckley told stpatsfc.com that he expects Bray to put it up to his side. “Bray have had some decent results at home this year, taking points off both Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers, and they have also shown that they can score goals with some of the players they have.”
“It's a cup game so there's always that little bit of extra excitement around the game with it being a knockout format, so we're looking forward to it. We'd a really good run in the cup last year so we'll be pushing for the win on Friday night in order to try and replicate that and hopefully go one better.”
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