Limerick will move into the top half of the Premier Division table with a win over Derry City at Thomond Park this evening (7.45pm), but boss Martin Russell says his side will have to be on “top form” to achieve it.
The Superblues will be seeking a fourth win in five outings under Russell, whose only loss in that sequence came with a late goal at the home of title favourites Dundalk last weekend.
Limerick quickly bounced back from that with an impressive win over reigning champions St Patrick’s Athletic on Monday, as they ended the hosts’ nine-game winning streak at Richmond Park thanks to Rory Gaffney’s 50th-minute strike.
And now they will be going in search of a third straight home win of their own, having put together back-to-back 4-1 successes over Shamrock Rovers and Bray Wanderers earlier this month.
The Candystripes enter the game having lost their last three Premier Division outings. But with Peter Hutton having overseen a four-game winning streak prior to that, Russell is aware of the challenge facing his team.
“Since Peter took over, Derry have been playing some good football and winning games along the way, so we know we will have to be at the top of our form to get the three points,” Martin told Limerickfc.ie.
“We want to try to keep our home form going but we’ll have to continue as we have been recently. It’s a competitive league and we want to try to get as high as possible in the table.”
Limerick have doubts over three of their back four, with centre-halves Samuel Oji (groin), Stephen Folan (knee) and left-back Robbie Williams (groin) struggling, but Russell is hopeful the trio will make it.
Derry, meanwhile, ended their losing run by overcoming Malahide United in the FAI Cup at The Brandywell on Friday night, thanks to second-half goals from Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy and Philip Lowry.
In the Premier Division, they have lost to Shamrock Rovers, Cork City and Drogheda United on their last three outings, without scoring.
Their last league win came at home to Bohs on a 4-0 scoreline on 1 August.
On the road, they last tasted victory when beating UCD 6-1 in Dublin on 27 July.
Derry right-back Shaun Kelly could make his first appearance against Limerick since leaving during the July transfer window for family reasons.
FAI Cup third round replay
A place in the FAI Ford Cup quarter finals is once again up for grabs as Cork City travel to Dalymount Park for a replay against Bohemians.
The sides drew 2-2 at Turner’s Cross on Friday night, with City twice coming from behind to secure a replay.
“It was a great game on Friday, a typical cup tie with really good passing football from both teams,” Bohs boss Owen Heary said.
“Both sides know each other well now, so hopefully we’ll see more of the same. There are tired legs but it’s the same for both teams.
“We’ve done well in our home games recently, so it’s up to the lads to turn good performances into victories.”
Bohemians welcome Roberto Lopes (suspension) and Derek Pender (work commitments) back into the squad, but Ryan McEvoy is a doubt with a back strain. Anto Murphy (ankle) remains out. Steven Beattie is suspended.
Cork manager John Caulfield said: “When you are two one down with a few minutes to go, to get a draw that keeps you in the cup, it creates a buzz and an excitement.
“Maybe we should have been out, and we’re not. We are delighted to still be in the cup. Bohs played very well on Friday, but we will be hoping to give a better performance ourselves. We know it will be a difficult game, but we have good spirit in the camp.”
Michael Rafter, Rob Lehane, John O’Flynn, Michael McSweeney are injured, while Ross Gaynor is cup-tied.