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In form Derry City will look to continue their title charge when they face Dundalk. A win for the Candystripes would see them move top of the table ahead of Sligo, who are in action on Saturday as well as stretch their unbeaten run to nine games.
Speaking ahead of the game Derry manager Stephen Kenny was wary of the challenge that Dundalk offered but admitted that the chance to go top of the table would be a great boost for his team: “If we win we can go top of the league, if only for a short period, and that is a tremendous incentive. Dundalk have a lot of good attacking players with real pace who can hurt you. I expect an open game with plenty of chances.”
However Dundalk will make the trip to the Brandywell safe in the knowledge that they were the last team to beat Derry, a Colin Hawkins header sealing a 1-0 win at Oriel Park in May.
Ian Foster’s men come to the Brandywell knowing they were the last side to beat Derry City this term and the Liverpool born manager will be hoping he can upset the Derry apple cart once more, speaking ahead of the game, Foster said “We know that we’ll go there and try to play in the right manner. Our last visit to The Brandywell, I think we went there with tired minds and tired bodies after a lot of games in the Setanta Cup.
We put in a very good performance at home and won the game, so we know we can beat them. On their own ground, they’re formidable; they’ve only lost one game there and that was the first game of the season. We know it will be tough to go up there and get all three points, but hopefully we can get a result.”
Derry boss Stephen Kenny will give will give fitness tests to Kevin Deery and Shane McEleney however the former Dunfermline manager must plan without Ruaidhri Higgins, who is suspended.
Dundalk will once again be without long-term injury victims Eoghan Osborne, Stephen McDonnell, and striker Jason Byrne. Foster could also be without Ross Gaynor, Nathan Murphy, and centre back Hawkins as they struggle with injury although he will be able to count on striker Mark Quigley who returns after suspension.
Friday night will be a special occasion for Dundalk captain Simon Madden as he makes his 50th straight start for the club. The former Darlington player has played every minute of his side’s 33 games this season adding to the 16 he made last season after joining the club in July.
Eamonn Zayed 17
Mark Quigley 8
Prediction: Both sides are in good form and scoring goals so this should make for a thrilling encounter, on paper anyway. That said the pressure of knowing they could go top could play on the minds of the Derry team and restrict their attacking instincts. With that in mind a draw might be on the cards.
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