St Patrick's Athletic V Shamrock Rovers

  • Mon, Sep 12, 2011 @ 10:08

Shamrock Rovers will be looking to get their bid for consecutive Airtricity League Premier Division titles back on track when they visit Richmond Park tonight, kick-off 8pm.

The nine-man Hoops suffered a 2-1 reverse to fellow contenders Sligo Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night, which allowed Derry City to grasp first place in the table.

The champions do have a game in hand over Derry and Sligo, but the loss of pole position could not have come at a worse time as Michael O'Neill's men prepare to enter into the Europa League group stages for the first time on Thursday.

O'Neill faces the difficult task of using his squad to compete on three different fronts - league, FAI Ford Cup and Europa League.
But while he would like to rest players with the visit of Rubin Kazan in mind, the Hoops' boss will not want his side to face the Russian side on the back of two disappointing domestic results.

"It's good for us to have another big game; it'll be a chance for us to re-focus and concentrate on getting back to winning ways," O'Neill said.

"The three points would obviously be the main thing for us, but it would also be good to get a win ahead of Thursday's Europa League game."

Pat Sullivan and Pat Flynn were both red-carded in the defeat to Sligo and so must sit this Dublin derby out.

Dean Kelly (groin), Conor McCormack and Ken Oman (both knee) are definitely out through injury, while the Hoops are sweating over the fitness of Gary Twigg (calf) and goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, who suffered a blow to the head against Sligo.

The game is also huge for St Patrick's Athletic after they kept their noses in the title race trough with a 3-0 win over Bray Wanderers on Friday night.

The Saints currently occupy fourth place, but they are just one point behind Sligo and three points adrift of tonight's opponents, albeit with an extra game played.

A win tonight would draw them level with the Hoops and would catapult them into a four-way battle for the league.
"This is now our biggest game of the season and we know that if we win we will go level with Rovers which is great at this stage of the year," Pat's boss Pete Mahon said.

"Our main aim over the past few weeks has been to break into the top three and despite our good form we haven't been able to do that.

"Credit must go to the top three for that and we can't forget that Bohs are still right behind us too.

"This is a very important game for us and for them. With Derry now top and Sligo in good form all games are important."

Mahon is hopeful the significance of the clash will draw a big crowd to Richmond Park.

"I hope we can get a big crowd down and that the weather and wind that's predicted stays away because we don't want the game to be spoiled as a spectacle.

"It will be very difficult for us to get back into it if we lose tomorrow but we're concentrating on winning, getting level with Rovers and hopefully into the top three with six or seven games to go in the championship - that's where we want to be."

Defender Derek McMillan (hamstring) is a definite absentee, but Derek Doyle is expected to shake off his calf complaint.

Striker Ian Daly impressed after he replaced Danny North at the Carlisle Grounds and will be pushing hard for a starting place.

Next Fixture

Sligo Rovers / February 21st @ 7:45pm
Competition: League
Venue: The Showgrounds
Team Pld Pts
Waterford FC13
Finn Harps13
Bohemian FC00
Shamrock Rovers00
Sligo Rovers10
St Patrick's Athletic10
Derry City10
Cork City10