Resurgent from last week’s North West Derby victory over Derry City, Sligo Rovers return to league action with the stakes raised once more with the visitors of champions Cork City to the Showgrounds on Saturday evening (kick off 7:45).
Three points tonight are as good as six for the Bit o’Red, following both Limerick and Bohemian’s losses last night, which sets up Sligo for a potential move up to seventh place and further to safety with a win this evening.
With that challenge in mind; Sligo Rovers head man Gerard Lyttle is looking forward to an exciting affair.
“This is a great test for us. We’ve had a few clean sheets which was something we wanted and last week we created chances to go on and win the game. The lads have taken a lot of confident from it and they’re very positive. We felt last week's display was coming. It lifted us but it's just three points.”
With this in mind, Sligo will be hoping for an improvement on their home record in tonight’s clash, with the Bit o’Red only managing to score two goals at home since April.
“Our away form is up there with the best but at home it has been the opposite and we have to change that. It’s going to be difficult, no doubt about that, but we’re looking for another big performance.
“In the two games so far we didn’t deserve to lose in the manner we did after sharing much of the play in The Showgrounds and we were beaten late on in the away game.
“It’s up to us to produce 90 minutes with concentration and put the focus on ourselves. I think we’re good enough to get at Cork and it’d be great to get the fans behind us and give them something to cheer in The Showgrounds because for whatever reason the results have only really been coming on the road. That’s the target for us.”
In team news, Sligo will be without Gary Boylan who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season and into 2019 after confirmation of an anterior cruciate ligament injury while Adam Morgan is also ruled out. Meanwhile, Regan Donelon will once again be available for selection with the added returns of Jack Keaney and John Mahon back from suspension.
The Rebel Army are on the road again with the visit to the Showgrounds this evening, knowing a win would return the champions to top spot. Having swept Derry aside 4-2 at Turners Cross, City went top by a point, but Dundalk’s 4-0 rout of Limerick last night pushed the Rebel Army back down to second.
Anything but a win tonight will see the Rebels confined to second. Speaking ahead of the game, Cork City boss John Caulfield was cagey in his build up to tonight’s tie, with the gaffer keen to draw upon his side’s previous record at the Showgrounds.
“Sligo has been a venue that has caused us a lot of problems over the last few years. We have had a number of draws up there. This year, at the start of the season, we went up there and we scored twice early on and maybe caught them.”
While conservative, Caulfield praised his northern counterparts and was optimistic for their chances overall for the season,
“When you bring in new players, it always takes time for things to settle, but it seems, over the last couple of months, as though Gerard has got his team playing well. They are very strong and there has been a lot more about them over the last six or seven weeks.
“Sligo is a great venue, with a passionate crowd but I feel, for us, we need to have a top-level performance and, if we do, we think we can get results. Despite the fact that they are in the bottom half of the table, if they can keep this form up and put a run of wins together, they could still challenge for a European place.”
In team news Cork City will be without long term absentee Johnny Dunleavy, while City will be testing Barry McNamee, Gearóid Morrissey, Alan Bennett and Shane Griffin with Conor McCormack returning from suspension.
This will be the second meeting between the sides this season with Cork City boasting a 100% record traveling tonight, following 4-1 and 1-0 wins earlier in the season.
The Showgrounds has been a thorn for City boss John Caulfield, who has only three wins up in Sligo and four draws.
Gerard Lyttle on the other side has one win over City to boost his side’s confidence this evening, a 1-0 win in. August 2017 last year.
Sligo Rovers 11/2 Draw 13/5 Cork City 8/15.
Sligo Rovers 0-2 Cork City.
Injured: Gary Boylan, Adam Morgan.
Injured: Johnny Dunleavy.
Doubtful: Barry McNamee, Gearóid Morrissey, Alan Bennett and Shane Griffin.