Ollie Horgan is hoping Sligo Rovers don’t hit the heights of their European form at Finn Park tonight as Finn Harps look to catch up with UCD in the Premier Division.
Harps lost out in the bottom of the table clash at the UCD Bowl last Friday despite taking a 1-0 lead.
A Filip Mihaljević penalty had Horgan’s men in the driving seat and looked to be in control but Donal Higgins’ equaliser against the run of play stopped Harps having it all their own way.
Despite Dara Keane being sent off for the Students, they rallied, and an Evan Caffrey stunner minutes later had them ahead before the hour mark.
Harps couldn’t find an equaliser as the two sides swapped places in the league, with the Donegal side falling to 10th.
Horgan said: “We’re playing catch up, we’ve got to accumulate more points than UCD do in both our remaining 10 games and hope to get to a play-off.”
Tonights opponents, Sligo Rovers have had a busy schedule, having played six European midweek games in the previous six weeks, but after being knocked out of the Conference League qualifiers by Norwegian side Viking FK, they will be fresher this week.
Sligo had a great run in the qualifiers, knocking out Bala Town from Wales on penalties, then a shock away win over Motherwell, before beating them at home too. They were outclassed in Norway but still had a great result to beat Viking 1-0 in The Showgrounds.
They did struggle in many of their weekend league fixtures after these ties however, with losses to then bottom side UCD, and to First Division side Wexford in the FAI Cup.
“We’re playing a Sligo side who have been on a great run, particularly in Europe, and we hope they won’t hit the heights that they got to in Europe,” Horgan added.
“They were unlucky to lose against St. Pats very narrowly, but they beat Bohemians. The Cup game and the League game against UCD, they weren’t as good as they were in Europe but they happened after the midweek European games, they didn’t play this Thursday.
“We’ve lost three out of three against them and we pray to god it wont be four out of four.”
A common theme in the three losses to the Bit O’Red this season is conceding early goals. The first meeting between the two sides this year saw Aidan Keena score the first of his hat trick on 13 minutes at the Showgrounds to win 3-0.
The other meeting in The Showgrounds again it was Keena, who was named the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for July, who scored after just three minutes, with former Harps man Karl O’Sullivan making it 2-0 after seven minutes.
O’Sullivan then scored the only goal of the game at Finn Park in April after 25 minutes.
And Horgan is hoping to avoid the same thing happening again tonight.
“We thought we had stopped it in the last couple of weeks and we did to a degree but then we conceded on Friday very quickly after scoring,” he added.
“Keena has scored five against us, Karl has scored a number of goals against us who was with us last year, we certainly don’t need to be conceding early or else it’ll be a long long night.
“We need to try and get something out of it, to get a draw would be brilliant but we couldn’t get a draw in the last three (against Sligo).”
Kick-off at Finn Park tonight is at 8pm.