By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United will be looking to leapfrog Longford Town back into the play-offs when the sides meet at United Park on Friday, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Drogs slipped out of the play-offs for the first time this season as they lost 3-0 at home to UCD a fortnight ago while Longford won at home to Cabinteely 24 hours later.
Sean Brennan’s first-half dismissal proved to be the turning point of the tie with a Conor Davis hat-trick wrapping up victory for the visitors with Drogs boss Tim Clancy left frustrated by the red card.
“I was really pleased with how we were doing up to that point,” the Trim native explained Thursday afternoon. “We had worked very hard in training to stop UCD from creating chances and I actually thought we were getting on top in the game before Sean was sent off.
“To be fair to Sean, I think it was a genuine attempt to get the ball but he should’ve known not to make that challenge when he’s already been booked. Obviously it’s an even bigger blow to have him unavailable tonight because he’s been massive for us this season.
“It’s an opportunity now for someone else to come into the side and make themselves a hero.”
Drogheda have found Longford tough opponents this season having required a stoppage time equaliser from Ciaran Kelly to rescue a point at home while they lost by a single goal at City Calling Stadium back in June.
Despite the pressure being cranked up on his side following recent results, Clancy has been keen to remind his players that their destiny remains in their own hands with just two league games remaining.
“I think the two week break from the UCD game has done us the world of good. We had a number of player who were carrying knocks going into the game and the week off has given us the opportunity to heal up.
“It’s a season defining game, there’s no other way of looking at it. Saying that shouldn’t put pressure on us, it’s something to relish and look forward to.
“We’ve been excellent all season and have hit a bumpy patch over the last few weeks but everything is still in our control. We need to be absolutely on our game from kick-off and make sure we have a chance of making the play-offs going into the last week of the season.”
Drogheda will be without the suspended pair of Sean Brennan and Kevin Farragher but have no injury worries.