This week is the 22nd in this year’s Airtricity League and things are hotting up at both the top and the bottom of the table.
Bohemians -v- Drogheda United
Bohs go into this game on the back of their first victory in three months after they overturned Bray Wanderers in the Carlisle Grounds last week. Drogheda go into this game as favourites but have a similar record to Bohs having not won a game since early May. Only four points separate these two sides and Drogheda will need to start picking up some positive results soon or they will find themselves in the thick of a relegation scrap. However, having only scored two goals in their last five games and with Bohs coming off the back of last week’s win, it doesn’t look like this is where the Drogs will end their win drought. A draw is the best bet in this game; it’s at 11/5.
Dundalk -v- Bray Wanderers
Dundalk go into this game sitting pretty in second place in the league table. They are a point ahead of Sligo Rovers (having played one game more) and only three points behind St Patrick’s Athletic. The odds are stacked heavily in Dundalk’s favour for this match as they have won three of their last five games, whereas Bray have only picked up two points in the same number of ties. Following their loss to Bohs last week Bray are right back in the relegation battle and have to pick something up in this clash. However, at home and on their artificial pitch I think Dundalk will just be a little too strong. They’re at 8/15.
St Patrick’s Athletic -v- Cork City
St Pat’s will return their attention to domestic matters this week having been dumped out of the Europa League by Zalgiris Vilnius over two legs. The Saints followed this up by being knocked out of the EA Sports Cup by Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night. With all of their attention now focussed on the league they will want to increase their three point advantage at the top of the table on Friday night. Having only lost one league game in Richmond Park this season Pat’s will be confident of picking up the three points here. Cork have started to put a few results together over the last couple of weeks and will pose a stern test for the home side in this one. Pat’s should come out on top though. They’re at 1/2.
UCD -v- Shelbourne
The Belfield Bowl will play host to a vital game on Friday evening as these two sides fight for their lives at the foot of the table. Shels will go into this game full of confidence having picked up wins against Cork City and Limerick in their last two games. Recently installed manager, Johnny McDonell, has brought a new life into the camp and seems to have instilled a belief in the players that they can survive. UCD, like Shels, are unbeaten in their last three league games and have managed to drag themselves up to 9th place. They are still only three points ahead of the Drumcondra side though. Shels have already beaten UCD this season and will be confident of doing so again. With the momentum they have at the moment and the positivity among players and fans, I think that they’ll take the three points here. They’re priced at 8/5.
Sligo Rovers -v- Shamrock Rovers
This will be a vital clash for both teams on Saturday night as they look to move up the table. Sligo have been quite topsy-turvy in their last five games, as they have been all season, picking two wins, two draws and one loss. The Hoops, on the other are stringing results together and haven’t been beaten in the league since April. They did slip up at home to UCD last week, however. Sligo need to win this game to keep within touching distance of St Pat’s but Rovers’ recent form suggest that they should get something out of this game. It’s a tough one to predict but I’m going to go for a draw at 11/5.
Limerick -v- Derry City
Having looked like real potential title winners for most of the first half of the season, Derry have fallen away a bit in recent weeks. They have suffered two defeats in their last two games and now reside in fourth place, four points behind St Pat’s. Limerick, meanwhile, threw away a 1-0 lead against bottom side Shelbourne last week and have only picked up two league wins wince May. If Derry want to keep themselves in with a chance of winning the league this year, they will have to win here. However, after a Europa League clash with Trabzonspor on Thursday night there might be a spot of tiredness around the camp. This game looks like a stalemate to me. The draw is at 11/5.