N4 derby preview

Despite only winning two games all season in the Premier Division, Longford Town could still make a fight back in the battle at the bottom as the Midlanders head to the Showgrounds on Friday night (kick-off 7-45PM). With Longford's relegation rivals Wexford Youths taking a hammering away to St.Patrick's Athletic last week, while the South East club have also lost a number of players to the tempting shores of New Zealand, there was a chance for Alan Mathews men to put the pressure on with a win over 3rd placed Derry City. However, two goals in a minute for Kenny Shiels side saw ''De Town's'' fantastic start to the game go down the drain as they lost 3-2 to the ''Candystripes''.

Following that bitterly disappointing defeat on Saturday last, Alan Mathews spoke of the individual errors that cost his team on the night while also pointing to similar occurrences prior to his arrival at the club. Against Derry City it was the centre-back pairing of Pat Flynn and Yann Mvita that were at fault for the game changing goals and that will surely lead to a change in those positions on Friday night with both Noel Haverty and Rhys Gorman available for selection. Having been awarded the clubs young player of the year award just last season, the lack of game time for Gorman under both Tony Cousins and now Alan Mathews has disappointed a lot of Longford supporters and they will be eager to see the former Shamrock Rovers youth come back into the team for this crunch encounter, although Haverty looks more likely to be given the nod.

As for Dave Robertson's Sligo Rovers, the ''Bit O'Red'' pulled off one of the shocks of the season when they pumped defending champions Dundalk 3-0 at Oriel Park last time out. Goals from Campion, Roberts and this seasons top goal scorer Cretaro sealed a famous win for the Connacht club but in general it has been a disappointing season for the three times League of Ireland champions. Having seen midfielder Liam Martin sent off during the first half, this result was all the more incredible for Robertson's charges and bar the obvious suspension of Martin and minor injury doubts over Achille Campion, Gavin Peers and John Russell, the English man will be hoping to keep his starting eleven as close as possible to that of the one that kicked off in Oriel Park. A change between the posts is guaranteed however, with Michael Schlingermann confirmed as out of action with a foot injury.

As for rock bottom Longford, the club seems to have abandoned its recent efforts to deliver team news prior to matches meaning we can only go on what we know from the last game which was a fully fit squad to choose from bar long term casualties such as Cody Mulhall. Meanwhile, Eddise Dsane will be back available for selection having served his time on the sidelines for five yellow cards but with David O'Sullivan bagging a brace against Derry and Don Cowan in blistering hot form at times during the game, English striker Dsane may find his involvement coming from the bench on Friday night.

A win for the Midlanders would cut the gap at the bottom to just three points on Wexford Youths should the Youths not pick up anything against Galway United. Victory for the hosts in this N4 derby would still give Sligo the faintest of hopes in catching 4th placed Shamrock Rovers while keeping Bohemians at arms length in 6th position.

Prediction - Sligo Rovers 3-0 Longford Town. (The Midlanders dreadful recent record against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds won't help lift Longford's spirits ahead of this must win game).