- Thursday March 29th, 2012 @ 21:46
Preview: Shels V Saints
St Patrick's Athletic make the short journey across to Drumcondra and Tolka Park for their first league clash against Dublin rivals Shelbourne in almost six years.
Having drawn their last two games Liam Buckley's side are hoping for a return to winning ways, however, it is almost ten years since the Saints last tasted victory in the league against the Reds; goals from Martin Russell and Tony Bird giving a Pats team then managed by Pat Dolan a 2-1 win back in August 2002.
Despite their spell out of the top division, newly promoted Shelbourne will be familiar to Saints' supporters following the clashes in last year's FAI Cup semi-final, Shelbourne prevailing 3-1 in the replay after a 1-1 draw in Tolka Park.
Having played against Shelbourne twice last season for former club Waterford United, Saints' defender Kenny Browne knows strong Alan Matthews side are.
“It will be tough, but there's no easy game in this league and we'll be looking for the three points after the Bohs game last week.”
Browne suffered a 2-1 defeat in Tolka Park last July with Waterford United, but in the return game in the RSC last October, Browne put in a match winning performance as he scored the only goal in the Blues 1-0 win over the Reds.
With the Saints having only conceded one goal in their opening four league games, Browne pointed to the work of the whole defence in front of Saints' keeper Brendan Clarke being the key to success, rather than any individual.
“Yeah it has been so far so good, and probably the one goal we've conceded so far was from a mistake.
"It is a good (record) so far, but we've got sterner tests in the matches ahead with the likes of Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers to come.”
Saints' manager Liam Buckley reports that he will be without the services of Dean Kelly who misses out through suspension having received an additional one match ban as a result of his sending off against Monaghan United two weeks ago.
Aidan Price remains the only player out injured as he continues to build up his fitness in training having missed pre-season through injury.
“Any side managed by Alan Matthews is always well organised and has a good style of play.
"Shels had a great season last year, and have a good record at home as their win over Derry City showed”, Buckley told stpatsfc.com.
“Unlike other teams, they've managed to hold on to the bulk of their squad so Friday's game will be a tough challenge.
"We'll be looking for a good performance from our lads, as we know our support in Tolka Park is always fantastic.”