Another big week in the Airtricity League, here's our pick of the best storylines to follow.
1) Can Derry City top the league table tonight?
Derry City are the form team in the LOI with 6 consecutive wins and travel to Inchicore to play Pats knowing a win there will put them top of the Airtricity League. (If only temporarily with Sligo playing on Saturday). The league's top scorers, with 23, know they'll have it all to do though as Pats showed they can compete with any team in last week's win over previously unbeaten Sligo. Pats come into the game on the back of four wins to nil and yesterday announced a new sponsorship deal. If they manager to beat Derry they'll give themselves a chance to leap frog them into 2nd by beating Bohs on Monday night. This should be a cracker.
2) Will Dundalk manage to win at home?
Dundalk have played four away games, all in Dublin, and have won them all. They've played 5 times at home so far and have yet to win (3 draws, 2 defeats). For Dundalk to challenge for a European place, they'll need to improve that home form. Tonight they face a Cork City side that have thrown away points by conceding in the last 3 minutes in 4 of their 7 league games so far. That record was evident on Tuesday as they conceded in the 94th minute at home to Shamrock Rovers to exit the Setanta Cup on away goals. Clearly dejected, they'll need to raise themselves to get anything from this game.
3) Are Sligo Rovers sick of Drogheda yet?
Sligo and Drogheda play for the 3rd time in 11 days tomorrow. Drogheda ended Sligo's 100% start to the season by winning the Setanta Cup semi final first leg 2-0. On Tuesday Sligo won 1-0 but Drogheda deservedly moved on to the final. After appearing invincible, Sligo's 0-2 loss away to Pats showed that they do have flaws in the team. Drogheda's only defeat so far was also in Inchicore (0-1) so a tight game can be anticipated.
4) Can Bohs beat Bray to give themselves breathing space?
We wrote recently about the bottom 4 drifting away. Bohs host Bray tonight with 7 points on the board. 6 of those points came with wins over the bottom 2 and incredibly Bohs have yet to win a point against a team that ended with 11 men on the field. Bray have lost 6 of the last seven and come to this game following heavy 7 and 4 goal defeats to Shamrock Rovers and Limerick. A win for Bohs would put them 6 points ahead of the bottom 3, which is nearly what they would have combined at this stage
5) Will the bottom 2 show more signs of life?
Shels last minute equaliser in Cork last week stopped a run of 5 defeats. They travel to a Limerick team looking to win their 3rd game on the trot after victories over Bohs & Bray. UCD have only a solitary point to their name but have lost the 3 games by one goal each time. Manager Martin Russell makes the point that his teams always start slow as he takes on so many young, unproven players. They host Shamrock Rovers who'll be looking for only their 3rd win. Rovers showed with their 7 goal win v Bray that they can punish defensive mistakes so any point earned for UCD will be a shock.
Whatever happens, enjoy the games!