UCD will look to strengthen their already solid title aspirations with a home win over Longford Town at the UCD Bowl on Friday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
Still unbeaten at home this season, the Students will surely be hoping that they can extend their lead at the top of the pile to double digits this weekend as both Drogheda and Shelbourne have difficult assignments against Cobh Ramblers and Galway United respectively.
After setting the First Division alight in the first half of the season with some dazzling displays of technical ability and fantastic teamwork, Collie O’Neill's side will look to return to the Premier Division after four years away.
In a game that looks set to be a great footballing spectacle between two sides who look to pass the ball around the deck with no fear, there is a strong possibility there will be plenty of goals.
Last time these sides met in the league, it was UCD who came out on top in a one-sided two goals to nil win over their Midlands counterparts.
A brace from Georgie Kelly sealed the three points for Collie O’Neill’s side as they comfortably saw off the challenge of Longford at City Calling Stadium.
The most recent clash saw Longford Town leave Belfield with a win in a 2-1 Leinster Senior Cup defeat for a much-changed UCD side.
UCD have not provided any team news for this weekend’s game.
After dispatching Drogheda United in their final game before the mid-season break, Longford Town will hope to make it two wins from two against promotion rivals with a potentially season-defining win against UCD at the Belfield Bowl.
After stuttering their way through most of April and May, Longford Town have really witnessed a marked upturn in form in the last few weeks.
With that improved form seeing wins over promotion rivals in recent games, it is clear that the confidence is starting to flow from Fenn’s young guns as they prime themselves for a last-ditch title charge.
Aodh Dervin, who has emerged as a real force within this Longford Town team, revealed that the Red and Black are anticipating a difficult challenge against the league leaders away from home.
“We’re very confident going into the game on Friday after our last few games against the teams around us,” Dervin revealed exclusively to extratime.ie.
“Saying that, last time we played UCD, we weren’t good enough at home, so we know what to expect from them now.
“They’re big, but if we can play football on our terms I don’t see why we can’t win on Friday.”
That challenge will be heightened considerably as Fenn will have to make do without five first team players on their trip to the capital.
Dean Byrne, Alan Kehoe and Cian Byrne all must sit out with long-term injuries while Daniel Ridge and Peter Hopkins also miss out with knocks picked up in recent days.
Midfielders Evan Galvin and Shane O’Connor have both left the club by mutual consent as Fenn plots a trip to Dublin with only the bare bones to choose from.
Referee: Neil Doyle
Longford Town have a fairly poor recent run of form against UCD away from home in the major competitions as they failed to register a victory against the Students in Belfield since 2007.
That game will have plenty of great memories for the Longford Town faithful as it saw them reach the FAI Cup Final at the RDS, a game they lost 1-0 to Cork City.
So far in this year’s First Division, UCD are one of three sides that are currently unbeaten at home alongside Shelbourne and Drogheda who are in 2nd and 3rd place.
After two league games in the capital this year, Longford Town are winless as they have fallen to defeats against Shelbourne and Cabinteely.
However, in their other two cup games in Dublin, Town are unbeaten after wins over Shamrock Rovers and UCD in the EA Sports Cup and Leinster Senior Cup respectively.
UCD evens; Draw 23/10; Longford Town 9/4.
UCD 2 – 2 Longford Town
Injured: Peter Hopkins, Alan Kehoe, Dean Byrne, Cian Byrne, Daniel Ridge.