Despite a run of games in which they’ve won just one league game in their last seven, Sligo Rovers can close the gap on leaders St Pat’s to three points with a win over UCD.
A spectacular start to the season means that the Champions are still very much in touch at the top even if their form has collapsed in the last few weeks. Indeed in many years gone by, their current points total of 32 points from 16 games would be enough to see them lead the league.
A lack of goals has quickly become Sligo’s biggest problems, they’ve gone four league games without finding the net now and the early season form of the likes of Anthony Elding and Rafael Cretaro has vanished.
The suspicion that teams have worked out how to counter the threat of Elding in particular is there, but regardless, Sligo will have to come up with a plan B as the big front man is suspended for the next three games are picking up a red card against Dundalk.
Raffaele Cretaro, Lee Lynch (both hamstring), Evan McMillan (knee) and Danny Ventre (leg) are sidelined through injury.
Manager Ian Baraclough is desperate to see his side regain their scoring touch and said: “You have to take the chances that come your way. As a team we have been a superb attacking force for a long period of time. We have created attacking openings on a consistent basis and you just have to keep reinforcing that to the group.
“I know what capabilities we have in front of goal, I reminded the players of what they can do on Friday morning and it is just a matter of time before it comes. When it does, I think we’ll see goals flow.”
The Sligo boss continued: “Every game is a must-win as far as I’m concerned. You want to take three points from any game you play. It’s not going to be easy, but this is a home game for us and one we feel we can win if our performance is right. The group has been very bright this week and having looked back at the game against Bohemians again, I think we played well and the only thing lacking was the ball going in the net.”
UCD meanwhile have suffered an alarming dip in form after an earlier purple patch. Two defeats to league leaders St Pat’s – one in the cup and one in the league – saw the Students ship nine goals without reply.
A morale-sapping 5-4 defeat to Bray last time out means that manager Martin Russell will have some work in lifting his players for the trip to Dalymount.
The Students will be looking to improve on their showing against the Bit o' Red during the first round of fixtures. That game ended 3-0 to Sligo Rovers.
A win for UCD could see them go level on points with Cork City if results go in the Students' favour but in facing a wounded Sligo side, they have their task cut out for them.
Russell said: "Sligo in recent games have not yielded the wins that their dominant play may have warranted. We are going to have to play well defensively and also carry a threat in an attacking sense with good use of the ball. The task is big, and as always we will look to take as many positives as well as some points from the match."
A home game against the second from bottom side appears to be the perfect game for Sligo to get their league campaign back on track and even if they are low on confidence in front of goal at the moment, they should still have enough to deal with the Students.