Soccer

Finn Harps boss Dave Rogers fires a warning to his players after Athlone defeat

Finn Harps manager Dave Rogers (right) criticised his players for the performance against Athlone on Monday
Finn Harps manager Dave Rogers (right) criticised his players for the performance against Athlone on Monday Finn Harps manager Dave Rogers (right) criticised his players for the performance against Athlone on Monday

FINN Harps boss Dave Rogers is hoping his side will show some real bouncebackability in Friday evening’s (8pm) SSE Airtricity League First Division clash against Treaty United in Ballybofey. 

Harps slumped to a 4-1 defeat away to Athlone Town on Monday, ending an encouraging five-match unbeaten run.

Afterwards, Rogers did not mince his words as he declared that the performance was “the worst of the season”.

And he added: “That performance is just not acceptable for a Finn Harps team under Dave Rogers and I am expecting a really big response (against Treaty).”

Fortunately for Harps, results elsewhere were generally favourable and although they dropped a place to eighth, they remain just three points off fifth spot – which gets you into the play-offs.

With 10 games to go, five teams could still be in the mix for the last play-off spot.

Galway are long odds-on to win the title as they hold a 16-point advantage over Waterford, albeit with a game more played.

Cobh look best-placed for third, but it’s a real battle after that and Rogers is well aware that every single point is vital. 

“Every time we seem to get into a position to get into the top five we seem to stutter,” he noted.

Treaty come to Finn Park lying second bottom, and have generally been under the radar after an indifferent campaign.

But the Limerick side have played a game less than Harps and would actually leapfrog Harps if they can win this encounter.

Getting promoted remains a long-shot – and few within the camp believe that Harps are good enough to go up – but, significantly, by keeping in the race it is important financially for the club as it keeps interest levels up and the fans filing through the turnstiles.

Harps’ average attendance at home this season continues to be above the 1,000 mark - which is pretty good for a side that has spent the bulk of the season in the bottom half of the table.

The only positive from the 4-1 defeat in Athlone was that BJ Banda got on the scoresheet, and he is likely to start against Treaty.

Rogers, though, may well tinker with his line-up, and he made it quite clear that he ''will not accept” another performance like the one in the midlands.

“We have a good squad of players and we have players who are chomping at the bit to play,” he noted.

On a worrying note, captain Ryan Rainey – the sole survivor from last year’s squad – is nursing another injury and Rogers will be hoping that he will be fully fit again soon, having missed three months already this season.

Daniel Stokoe, who was sent off in Athlone, is not available for selection due to suspension.

This is the third meeting of the sides this season. Harps won 2-0 on their own turf and then notched up their best away win of the season with a 3-0 victory at the Market’s Field.