Athlone Town -v- Mervue UnitedThu, Sep 20 2012
It has not been a very productive few months for Athlone Town as they have found it hard to register three points as you have to go back to the end of June and a 2-0 home win over SD Galway for their last win.
Since then the midlanders have drawn four and lost five of their nine league games and manager Mike Kerley has departed Lissywollen and replaced by his assistant Padraig Moran. Moran hasn’t been able to change the club’s fortunes as he has presided over two defeats in his three games to date, the most recent a 3-0 home loss to Wexford Youths last weekend.
At this stage of the season and with only four games remaining Athlone’s aim will be to take fourth place as they lie three points behind Finn Harps and with games against Wexford Youths, Limerick and Waterford to finish the season over the coming weeks, they will have targeted this game as the one to get back to winning ways.
Moran will be without top goalscorer Noel McGee who will be out for another three weeks with a calf injury, while July signings Stephen Last (leg), Eric Molloy (knee/ankle) and Neil Harney (hamstring) are also on the sidelines. Both Damien Rushe (knee) and Barry O’Mahoney (dead leg) are also considered doubtful but Stephen Relihan, Garvan Broughall and Mark Sherlock are all back in the squad.
A season that promised so much for Johnny Glynn’s side has rarely had too many highs and last week’s FAI Cup quarter final disappointment in Derry was yet another low as the club suffered a record cup defeat at the hands of the Premier Division side.
The Galway side will look to put that very disappointing display behind them as they return to league action and try and put some daylight between themselves and city rivals SD Galway in the battle to avoid finishing bottom, something Mervue have avoided since entering the league in 2009.
They can as least draw on the fact that the last meeting between the two sides resulted in a 2-0 home win for Glynn’s team as second half goals from Stephen Walsh and Tom King ensured a home win at Fahy’s Field back in July.
Athlone though did win the two previous meetings this season, winning the first game 1-0 at Fahy’s Field back in March when a stunning Joe Woods strike settled that game. The second meeting in Athlone in May saw the home side win again as first half strikes from Tommy Barrett and Stephen Relihan secured the points despite a late James Casserly reply.
Glynn will have to plan without his captain Mike Elwood who serves a one match suspension for his red card against Limerick two weeks ago, while Shane Keogh, Jason Molloy and Noel Varley are doubts having not trained all week due to the flu and Damien O’Rourke is unavailable due to work commitments. Midfielder Gary Kelly and defender Marc Ludden return to the squad having missed the cup defeat in Derry last week.
Glynn on Friday night’s game “This is a big game for us and I will be looking for a response from our players after last week’s disappointing performance in Derry. Athlone have beaten us twice this season already and we can expect a backlash from their 3-0 home defeat to Wexford last week.”
Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin)
Athlone have won six of the last seven meetings between the two sides including all three last season and two of the three in the current campaign.
In the twelve meetings since 2009 Athlone hold a strong upper hand winning eight, while Mervue have won three with only one draw - a 2-2 draw in May 2009.
Mervue have never won in Athlone, with the home side winning five of the six games played by the Shannon, that 2-2 draw was their only point in Lissywollen.
BETTING – Athlone Town 21/20; Draw 9/4; Mervue Utd 9/4.
PREDICTION - A 1-1 draw.
Athlone Town Injury News: Noel McGee (Calf), Neil Harney (Hamstring), Stephen Last (Leg), Eric Molloy (Knee and Ankle), Doubts - Damien Rushe (Knee) and Barry O’Mahoney (Dead Leg).
Athlone Town Suspension News: Sean Skelly.
Mervue United Injury News: Kenny Farrell (ankle). Doubful: Shane Keogh, Jason Molloy and Noel Varley (all flu).
Mervue United Suspension News: Mike Elwood.