Finn Harps face herculean task as they take-on Sligo Rovers
FINN HARPS have failed to score in the league for 471 minutes – and the goal drought has seen them sucked right back into the battle to avoid relegation.
Having lost five games on the spin, these are worrying times for the Donegal club and they are hardly going to get any favours tonight as they make the short trip south to take on great rivals Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.
Six weeks ago, Harps were on an upward curve having taken 10 points from 12, but now they are on the slippery slope and have slipped to 10th spot.
They are 13 points ahead of seemingly doomed Longford Town, but are just five above Wexford Youths, who occupy the relegation play-off spot.
Admittedly, Harps have two games fewer played than Wexford, but the sides still have to meet at Ferrycarraig Park.
Of immediate concern, though, is the challenge to extract something from the Sligo game.
“Sligo have improved as the season has progressed and are one of the form teams in the league at the moment, “ Harps boss Ollie Horgan observed.
“They had an away win in Cork which is very rare. They have great movement and play attractive football with some very talented and quick players. It’s going to be another difficult game away for us.”
Harps’ last league goal was scored by Sean Houston in a 1-0 win over Galway on July 8.
Horgan has altered his formation on a number of occasions in recent weeks, and played two in attack in the recent defeat away to Bohemians.
One suspects, however, that he may just deploy former Sligo player Ruairi Keating in a lone role up front for this north-west derby.
Dave Scully has been carrying a knock and may start on the bench, with Ryan Curran and Kevin McHugh the other attacking options. If Scully is not deemed fit, teenager BJ Banda could yet be among the replacements. Midfielder Barry Molloy will have a late fitness test.
Sligo still harbour ambitions of European football next season.
Significantly, however, Reds’ favourite Rafael Cretaro – who inspired them to come from behind to beat Galway United 2-1 in their last outing – is suspended, along with Craig Roddan.
This is the second of three successive home games for Sligo, who have lost only once in their last 11 league games and will start as firm favourites.
Harps actually beat them 3-0 at Finn Park earlier in the season, but this time around Harps would gladly settle for a point.
When the sides met at the Showgrounds in March, Damian McNulty scored a cracking volley that gave Harps a 1-1 draw in a fixture where there was floodlight failure late on.
Harps fans will be hoping that it is their team that light up the venue this time around with a performance and result to ease the relegation fears.
After tonight, Harps are not in action again in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland until September 16, when they take on Longford Town in Ballybofey.