Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan is hoping that the three-week lay-off from competitive football will not affect their chances of gaining a decent away result against Drogheda Utd tomorrow night (kick-off 7.45) in the first leg of their play-off.
The return leg will be at Finn Park on Friday-week, October 19.
“We have been trying our best to keep the sharpness but that hasn’t been easy with no competitive game since the 22nd of September,” Horgan said.
“The friendly against the Defence Forces was a bit of help but we are just focusing now being ready to give it our best shot against Drogheda at United Park.”
“Some people might say they got a big advantage in the play-off against Shelbourne because they had two men sent-off quite early in the game.
“ But, I would say it was difficult for Drogheda to play against nine men. They came back from 2-0 down to get a goal that forced it into extra-time. We have played them three times this season and the games have all been very close.”
At the end of March it was Drogheda who won the first meeting 2-1. Harps had Keith Cowan sent-off after just 23 minutes and the hosts scored from the resultant penalty.
They doubled that advantage before the break. However, Horgan’s men kept battling and did pull a late goal back through Mark Hannon but there wasn’t sufficient time to get an equaliser.
In early May at Finn Park, Harps came from a goal behind at half-time to win 2-1 with the goals coming from Keith Cowan and Ciaran O’Connor.
The last meeting between the two teams was at the start of July when an 89th minute goal from sub John O’Flynn have Harps a 1-0 at United Park.
Horgan says Drogheda will have gained a momentum from the dramatic penalty shoot-out win on Monday night at Tolka Park and added that with home advantage tomorrow night Tim Clancy’s men will provide a very big test for Harps.
Horgan said: “They will have recovered from Monday night even though it did go to extra-time and penalties. That result will have given Drogheda a lot of confidence so our players after nearly three weeks without a competitive game must be ready for that challenge from the very start tomorrow night at United Park.
“Drogheda have experience and quality. Their goalkeeper Paul Skinner knows the League of Ireland scene well. Then you have the likes of Richie Purdy, Sean Brennan, Jake Hyland, Mark Doyle and Chris Lyons who are good players.
The Harps manager has injury concerns over Mark Timlin and Mark Coyle. Timlin missed the last two games of the regulation season against UCD and Cabinteely due to a knee injury. Coyle has had ongoing trouble with a knee also that kept him out of the Cabinteely game.