Limerick return to league action as Sligo Rovers make trip to Markets Field.
Limerick FC welcome Sligo Rovers to the Markets Field on Saturday evening (kick-off 6.30 pm). The Shannonsiders will be desperately hoping to bounce back from one of their worst displays of the season, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Galway United.
Sligo Rovers travel to the Markets Field with the aim of pulling away from the three relegation places, while also dragging their hosts back into the extremely tight battle at the bottom.
Chris Mulhall departed the club last week and was confirmed as a Drogheda player on Wednesday. Limerick manager Neil McDonald will have a full squad to choose from with recently signed winger Henry Cameron cleared to play. Fellow new signing Joe Crowe, naturally a centre-back, featured in an unfamiliar right-back role on his debut against Galway, but the Norwich loanee put in a positive display in an otherwise poor outing.
Limerick adopted McDonald’s preferred narrow 4-4-2 formation in Eamon Deacy Park, with centre-backs Joe Crowe and David O’Connor occupying both full-back positions. With Lee-J Lynch and Dean Clarke regularly choosing to cut infield to an already congested midfield area, Limerick relied on Crowe and O’Connor to provide much needed width.
While Crowe supplied some decent crosses, especially for Rodrigo Tosi’s big early chance, O’Connor clearly struggled when asked to enter the attacking third. Coupled with the fact that centre-back duo Tony Whitehead and Robbie Williams failed to contain Padraic Cunningham and Ronan Murray, the back four endured a tough night.
The return of right-back Shaun Kelly from an ankle injury will certainly boost the home side’s chances on Saturday night. The Donegal native is much more comfortable in possession. Rodrigo Tosi and Chiedozie Ogbene will be hoping for better service on Saturday, as the pair were living off scraps in their last outing. They are one of the most dangerous duo’s in the league when utilised correctly.
Limerick manager Neil McDonald expects his side to attack Sligo Rovers from the first whistle.
“We are going to try and have three unbeaten games at home. We are going to try to score goals to win the game which we have been working on in training and I expect the players to implement that on Saturday.”
McDonald admits the squad were disappointed with the performance in Galway as the side had the chance to move up the table.
“We are all disappointed that we lost to Galway as it was a great chance to move up the table. We have been working hard in training and concentrating fully on the Sligo game for a couple of weeks now.”
The former Blackpool boss has cited the club’s form as key for the rest of the season.
“We must continue our home form. We’re looking forward to our next challenge against Sligo.”
Sligo Rovers recently announced three new signings who have all featured early on for Gerard Lyttle’s side. Former Limerick defender Sheamus Sharkey, midfielder Rhys McCabe and striker Benny Igiehon have added depth to the squad which have recently lost Kieran Sadlier to Cork.
Lyttle enjoyed a comfortable win over Limerick at the Showgrounds in his early days as manager, but realises Limerick will shape up differently with McDonald as manager.
“We played really well that night, everything we had worked on in training actually came to fruition in the match, so hopefully we can repeat that at the Market’s Field. Limerick have changed a bit since then with a new manager and a new formation so it will be a different type of game. But we’ve prepared well, training has gone well, and everybody’s up for the challenge,”
The Northern Irish man has bemoaned Rovers luck and pointed out how “slim the margins are” at the bottom.
“In our last away game against Derry, we had an exceptional off-day, but otherwise I would say we have more than held our own against the other teams. Take last week against Drogheda, we were by far the better team, came up against a goalkeeper in outstanding form, had a goal disallowed and then conceded to a wonder goal. That was a really big break for Drogheda, and that’s the sort of break we haven’t been getting.
The Bit O’Red also have a full squad to choose from for the game, with Kyle Callan McFadden returning.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Limerick were 5-1 winners against Sligo on the opening day of the season which proved to be the beginning of the end for former Sligo manager Dave Robertson. Sligo exacted retribution in the return fixture at the Showgrounds, emerging with a 3-0 victory.