Play-off Preview: Drogheda United -v- Finn Harps

Fri, Oct 12 2018

Credit: Steve Alfred

Having overcome the challenge of Shelbourne on Monday, Drogheda United go straight back into play-off action as they welcome Finn Harps to United Park on Friday (kick-off 7.45pm).

DROGHEDA UNITED

A penalty shootout victory over nine-men Shelbourne was required by Drogheda United in order to book their place in the second round of the play-offs. A 2-1 win in Tolka Park on Monday cancelled out the Reds 1-0 win in the first leg.

Despite the visitors numerical advantage, they failed to score in extra-time but advanced 4-2 on penalties with manager Tim Clancy relieved to see his side prevail. 

"It was a crazy night," the Trim native admitted.

"It was a huge ask for us to turnaround the first leg defeat and regardless of the circumstances, the players deserve great credit for progressing through the tie.

"It's not that often that you actually play against ten men, let alone nine, so that brought its own challenges but Shels were fantastic on the night, they never gave up.

"Obviously, we're delighted that are season continues but it was a real blow losing Jake Hyland to such a bad injury. He's been tremendous for us as captain and we all wish him a speedy recovery."

With only a four day turnaround for the Drogs compared to Harps' three week break from their last league action, Clancy is aware that Ollie Horgan's side may be fresher but he's called on his players to deliver another big performance.

"There's definitely an advantage for Harps having had the break but there's nothing we can do about it now. 

"Ollie had put together a really experienced side with quality in every position but we're riding a wave of momentum after winning three in four, all intense, high-pressured games. 

"I said it last week and it proved through, nothing will be won or lost tomorrow night regardless of the result. 

"We don't want to be giving ourselves another mountain to climb next week in Ballybofey and hopefully our fans can spur us on Friday night."

Drogheda will be without the injured pair of Hyland and Lee Duffy but have no suspensions going into the game.

FINN HARPS

A second-place finish in the SSE Airtricity League First Division for Finn Harps meant the Donegal side booked an automatic place in the second round of the league play-offs. This, however, has meant Harps have now been without a competitive game for over three weeks with their last league outing coming on the 22nd September.

Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan is hoping that the lack of games will not hurt their chances come Friday night.  

 “We have been trying our best to keep the sharpness but that hasn’t been easy with no competitive game since the 22nd of September. The friendly against the Defence Forces was a bit of help but we are just focusing now being ready to give it our best shot against Drogheda at United Park.”

“Some people might say they got a big advantage in the play-off against Shelbourne because they had two men sent-off quite early in the game. But, I would say it was difficult for Drogheda to play against nine men. They came back from 2-0 down to get a goal that forced it into extra-time. We have played them three times this season and the games have all been very close.”

Despite Drogheda having to play 120 minutes of football on Monday, Horgan believes that game will give their opponents a boost rather than hamper their chances.  

“They will have recovered from Monday night even though it did go to extra-time and penalties. That result will have given Drogheda a lot of confidence so our players after nearly three weeks without a competitive game must be ready for that challenge from the very start Friday night at United Park.

“Drogheda have experience and quality. Their goalkeeper Paul Skinner knows the League of Ireland scene well. Then you have the likes of Richie Purdy, Sean Brennan, Jake Hyland, Mark Doyle and Chris Lyons who are good players.”

The Harps manager has injury concerns over Mark Timlin and Mark Coyle. Timlin missed the last two games of the regulation season against UCD and Cabinteely due to a knee injury. Coyle has had ongoing trouble with a knee also that kept him out of the Cabinteely game.

Referee: Neil Doyle

MATCH STATS

Finn Harps finished 2nd in the league with Drogheda United ending up in 4th, five points behind their play-off opponents.

The teams have faced each other three times this season. In March, Drogheda United beat Harps 2-1 in United Park. Their next encounter saw Harps beat Drogs 2-1 in Ballybofey. Their last meeting, on the 6th July, saw Harps win 1-0 away from home.

Finn Harps and Drogheda United both were relegated in 2017.

BETTING

Drogheda United 17/10; Draw 21/10; Finn Harps 7/5

PREDICTION

Drogheda United 1 – 1 Finn Harps

 

Drogheda United

Injured: Jake Hyland, Lee Duffy

Doubtful: None

Suspended: None

 

Finn Harps

Injured: None

Doubtful: Mark Timlin, Mark Coyle

Suspended: None