PREVIEW: Bohemains V Longford Town
Longford Town will make the trip to Dalymount Park on Friday night in rarely confident mood this season, having claimed only their second win of the campaign away to fellow relegation threatened Finn Harps last weekend. A Kevin O'Connor wonder goal just shy of the twenty minute mark at Finn Park on Friday night last gave Alan Mathews his first success with Town since his last stint in charge back in 2007. The Town boss will be hoping that newly found confidence carries through against a ''Bohs'' side who will be facing into their second game of the week, having beaten Wexford Youths by a goal to nil on Monday night. Keith Long's Bohemians have endured a disappointing league campaign, failing to kick on from last seasons near miss on European qualification, but will be looking to make it four wins from four against '''De Town'' having also knocked them out of the league cup at the beginning of 2016. Prior to Monday nights victory, the Dublin club were comprehensively beaten by an excellent Galway United side at the weekend as Tommy Dunne's men ran out 2-0 winners with Bohemians struggling for consistency this season. Despite that fact however, the ''Gypsies '' have won three out of their last five league games, while also picking up some silverware in the shape of the Leinster Senior Cup in between. Perhaps a win over rock bottom Longford on Friday night could lead to the start of a strong finish for the ''Bohs'' who will be eager to catch Sligo Rovers in a bid to reclaim 5th position in the table.
Bohemians chances of doing so have been dealt a blow in the past few days however, with the news that main striker Ismhael Akinade is to be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign. While Akinade has endured a quiet season in front of goals, his ability to rustle up opposition defenders is one any manager would like to have at his disposal and it remains to be seen who may step up to fill ''Izzy's'' boots.
As for the visitors, Longford Town come into this game missing a key striker of their own with the news that Lee Duffy has departed the club due to injury still not announced by the club, although confirmed by Duffy himself on social media. Meanwhile, Cody Mulhall remains sidelined as he has been for virtually his entire spell at the club having required key-hole surgery on his right knee. This may open up the door of opportunity for the clubs all-time leading scorer David O'Sullivan, who was extremely close to signing for Bohemians back in 2013 but opted to remain with the club as the Midlanders went onto win the First Division title the following season, with O'Sullivan bagging an incredible 28 goals in the process. However, should manager Alan Mathews opt to go with just the one striker it will be the energetic Eddie Dsane that leads the line and rightfully so after a fantastic start to life at the club, having arrived at the midway point in what will be seen as one of Tony Cousins final and perhaps best signings in a long time.
Another signing made by now axed boss Cousins to shine during last Friday's win was French centre-back Yann Mvita who many feel should have claimed the man of the match gong against Finn Harps. However, Mvita was at fault for the Harps penalty which was eventually saved by Ryan Coulter, another Cousins mid-season signing, and the Frenchman will need to cut those sort of mistakes out of his game if he is to reach his full potential within the League of Ireland.
Noel Haverty returns to the squad following a length absence through injury and he will immediately push for a starting berth, although it is unlikely Alan Mathews will tinker with a winning team and a back four that kept one of ''De Town's'' few clean sheets this season.
With Wexford Youths at home to Bray Wanderers tonight, ''De Town'' will need to do their business at Dalymount Park prior to praying for another win for the County Wicklow side, who are on a fine run of form at the moment. A win for Longford and loss for Wexford on Friday night would cut the gap at the bottom to just three points with barely a handful of games remaining, meaning the pressure would really start to mount on Shane Keegan's men in their first season in the top flight. With a string of home games on the horizon for Longford Town this is the ample opportunity to strike but whether or not this streak of confidence has come too late in the day to save the club remains to be seen.
PREDICTION: 1-1 DRAW.