Athlone come to Finn Park having recently replaced Manager Mike Kerley with Padraig Moran.
“They’ve certainly improved this year, albeit they have recently parted company with their manager,” said Harps boss Peter Hutton ahead of Saturday’s game.
“They had a good result last week against Longford and it will be no surprise to see their players trying to impress Padraig Moran. They have a good work ethic and athleticism; so you’ll not get anything off them unless you match their work rate.
“But the onus is on us as the home team to take the game to them. While the results might not always have gone our way, most games at Finn Park this year have been filled with drama and excitement.”
Last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Mervue United at Fahy’s Field extended Harps’ recent unbeaten run to eight games. Although the game was far from a classic, Hutton was happy with his troops and the progress shown over the last couple of months.
“There wasn’t very much football played, although we tried our best to play a wee bit. They were very hard to play against, playing five in midfield and crowding out an already very tight and congested pitch,” Hutton said.
“They just played long balls all night and for us we like to get a tempo going and a fluency to our play but it was very hard to do that when the opposition is set up like that. We had a couple of chances near the end where we could’ve stolen it but we just sort of snatched at the shots.”
The injuries and suspensions are beginning to clear up for Hutton’s side. This weekend, he welcomes back a trio of suspended players in Thomas McBride, Kevin McHugh and Aaron O’Hagan. However, Gary Merritt and Michael Funston are doubts, with the latter the one most likely to have recovered in time for Saturday.
Although Harps have an excellent home record against Athlone, they did lose when the two sides met at Finn Park in May. That 2-1 loss was Athlone’s first victory at Finn Park in twenty years – their previous victory in Ballybofey coming via a 3-2 win in October 1992.
Doubtful: Gary Merritt (groin), Michael Funston (shin).
Injured: Stephen O’Donnell (cruciate), Hugh Carlin (cruciate), Blain Curtis (cruciate).
Form Guide (last six league games)
Finn Harps: D-D-W-W-D-D (10 pts)
Athlone Town: D-L-L-D-L-D (3 pts)
Last six home games against Athlone Town
02/11/2007 – Finn Harps 1-1 Athlone Town (First Division)
18/07/2009 – Finn Harps 1-1 Athlone Town (First Division)
17/04/2010 – Finn Harps 0-0 Athlone Town (First Division)
01/10/2010 – Finn Harps 2-2 Athlone Town (First Division)
26/05/2011 – Finn Harps 1-0 Athlone Town (First Division)
05/05/2012 – Finn Harps 1-2 Athlone Town (First Division)
Finn Harps Goalscorers 2012
Kevin McHugh – 10 (1 in League Cup)
Paul McVeigh – 4
Adam Clarke – 4
Thomas McBride – 3
Blain Curtis – 2
Ciaran Coll – 2
Paul Simon Tracey – 2
Thomas McMonagle – 2
Matt Harkin – 2
Thomas Bonner – 1
Aaron O’Hagan – 1
Shaun McGowan – 1
Finn Harps Results 2012 (Harps goalscorers in brackets)
31/08/2012 – (FD) Mervue United 1-1 Finn Harps (McVeigh)
18/08/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 1-1 Limerick (McVeigh)
11/08/2012 – (FD) Longford Town 0-1 Finn Harps (McHugh)
03/08/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 2-0 SD Galway (McHugh 2)
27/07/2012 – (FD) Waterford United 1-1 Finn Harps (Harkin)
21/07/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 3-3 Wexford Youths (McMonagle, McHugh, McGowan)
13/07/2012 – (FD) Athlone Town 1-1 Finn Harps (O’Hagan)
07/07/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 3-2 Mervue United (McHugh, McVeigh 2)
29/06/2012 – (FD) Limerick 3-0 Finn Harps
22/06/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 1-3 Longford Town (Harkin)
30/05/2012 – (FD) Salthill Devon 1-5 Finn Harps (Bonner, McBride 2, Coll 2)
23/05/2012 – (FC) Derry City 4-0 Finn Harps
18/05/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 0-1 Waterford United
11/05/2012 – (FD) Wexford Youths 3-0 Finn Harps
05/05/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 1-2 Athlone Town (McHugh)
27/04/2012 – (FD) Mervue United 3-0 Finn Harps
21/04/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 1-3 Limerick (Clarke)
14/04/2012 – (FD) Longford Town 1-3 Finn Harps (Tracey, McBride, Curtis)
09/04/2012 – (LC) Derry City 4-0 Finn Harps
06/04/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 3-0 Salthill Devon (Clarke, McHugh, Curtis)
31/03/2012 – (FD) Waterford United 0-2 Finn Harps (Tracey, Waterford o.g.)
26/03/2012 – (LC) Finn Harps 2-0 Mayo League (Mayo o.g., McHugh)
24/03/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 0-1 Wexford Youths
16/03/2012 – (FD) Athlone Town 2-0 Finn Harps
10/03/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 4-3 Mervue United (Clarke, McHugh 2, McMonagle)
02/03/2012 – (FD) Limerick 2-1 Finn Harps (Clarke)
FD = First Division; LC = League Cup; FC = FAI CupTags: