report to follow
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will return to league action following Cup heartbreak as they face manager-less Sligo Rovers on Saturday, kickoff 7.45pm at the Showgrounds.
The Boynesiders were eliminated from the FAI Cup at the second attempt as they went down 5-0 to Derry City in the quarter-final replay at the Brandywell on Tuesday.
It was a weakened United side that took to the field as Michael Daly, Gavan Holohan, Gavin Brennan, Shane Grimes and Peter McGlynn were all suspended and Drogheda manger Damien Richardson believes that those absentees proved pivotal.
“The defeat to Derry was an expected occurrence given the number of suspensions and injuries that we had,” the Dubliner admitted on Friday. “To be fair to the players, they gave a complete and wholehearted effort and the two late goals gave an unfair gloss on the contest. This group has proven to me that they don’t give up no matter what and their improvement over the last few weeks has been extraordinary.”
Cup elimination means that Drogheda only have six league games left to play as they sit eight in the table on 32 points. Despite no fears of relegation and seemingly little to play for between now and the season’s end, Richardson remains confident his squad will finish the campaign strongly.
“There is an undercurrent feeling of determination about this squad so even though we are out of the Cup, I don’t foresee our performance levels dipping off between now and the end of the season. It is up to the squad to make sure that there is no anticlimax for the supporters. The fans that show up in the remaining games are the diehard supporters and we owe them to give every game our very best.”
While Drogheda have no suspension worries ahead of Saturday’s game, they will be without the injured trio of Gary O’Neill, Paul Crowley and Cathal Brady. O’Neill and Crowley will be missing due to groin injuries while Brady has a hamstring problem with all three expected to be out for a fortnight.
As the league table would suggest, Sligo have had the better of the encounters between the sides in 2014. A Declan O’Brien strike earned United a 1-1 draw at the Shwgrounds in April but the Bit O’Red defeated ten man United in Darius Kieran’s first game in charge a couple of months ago.
Since that game, United have picked up 17 points from a possible 27 available and the Drogheda manager is quietly confident that his side can cause an upset following John Coleman’s departure to Accrington Stanley during the week.
“It’s great to have a game so quickly after a tough defeat and the players are really chomping at the bit to get back playing. Sligo is a very attractive venue with a good team that perhaps will feel they should be higher in the league table. It will be a game in which we will hopefully get back to winning ways, that will be the intention.”
Iarfhlaidh Davoren (Paul O’Conor 64’)
Danny North (Ruairi Keating 89’)
Eamon Zayed (Gary Armstrong 64’)
Peter McGlynn (Adam Wixted 64’)
Stephen Maher (Carl Walshe 80’)
Declan O’Brien 34’
Stephen Maher 58’
Raffaele Cretaro (yellow) 86’
Mick Daly (yellow) 31’