report to follow
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be aiming to bring down the curtain on the 2014 SSE Airtricity league season with a victory over relegation candidates UCD, kickoff 7.45pm at the Belfield Bowl.
Despite an early season collapse that saw eleven defeats in twelve games, the Boynesiders come into the final day of the season with a mid table finish assured.
United can rise as high as seventh depending on other results but manager Damien Richardson has warned his players that they will need to improve on a lackluster display during the 2-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers last week.
“I felt that Shamrock Rovers fully deserved their victory last Friday,” the Dubliner admitted on Thursday. “We didn’t really perform while Rovers were dominant in all areas of the pitch. They were the strongest team that we have met in recent weeks and we struggled with their quality after a long season. Suspensions and injuries also played a part as we were a little lop sided though the team gave it their all.”
Drogheda were given a mountain to climb against the Hoops after conceding with only four minutes gone, the third fixture in a row in which the Boynesiders have gone behind in the opening 15 minutes of the game.
“We have conceded a number of early goals in recent weeks and again I would put that down to the suspensions and injuries. We can’t get a consistent eleven on the pitch and that is shown up against the top sides in the country. New players have to acclimatise when they haven’t been playing regularly and that has been our biggest downfall in the last three games.”
While Drogheda may only have pride to play for, Friday’s game will carry more significant importance for their opponents. The Students currently occupy the relegation playoff position but are only a point above bottom side Athlone Town as they aim to avoid the automatic relegation spot.
Both sides hold victories over the other in 2014 as UCD ran out 2-1 winners when the sides met at Belfield back in May while Drogheda comfortably disposed of the Students 4-0 a couple of months ago in Richardson’s first game in charge and the Drogheda manager is hoping for a repeat performance.
“I have no doubt that we will be as motivated as UCD will be tomorrow night. I think this Drogheda side has a great honesty and desire to represent the club to the highest degree. It is a huge game for UCD and we owe it to the league and to our fans to put our best side out and get a result. We will be doing our very best to finish the season off with three points.”
Mick Daly, Daire Doyle and Cathal Brady are all doubtful for the visitors due to injury while Gavin Brennan will miss out as he serves the third game of a five-match ban. Dylan Connolly will make only his second league start for United in goal.
Stephen Maher (Paul Crowley 67)
Daire Doyle (Paul Andrews 84)
Declan O’Brien (Cathal Brady 67)