A small slate of fixtures on Friday means that Irish games dominate the best bets selected by our fantastic network of League Scouts.
In the Premier Division, UCD host Drogheda in what could prove to be a crucial game in the battle to avoid the relegation play-off position.
Meanwhile we have four First Division games to get your teeth stuck into, with both Treaty United and Wexford hovering just outside the promotion play-off positions and hoping to push past Bray Wanderers and Athlone Town before the end of the season.
With Athlone facing runaway leaders Galway, and Bray hosting Wexford, this could be an important night in the battle for promotion to Ireland’s top flight.
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Friday’s League Scout Best Bets
UCD v Drogheda United
This game shouldn’t prove too difficult for the visitors to take all three points. The students of UCD just don’t have the same quality of players that they’ve had in recent years. They struggle to play with the same line-up on a regular basis, chopping and changing, as Manager Andy Meyler tries to find a winning formula.
This is the time of year that the students usually tend to struggle, and their results of late seem to prove that, as they’ve shipped 33 goals in their last nine games. Expect that to continue in this game.
Drogheda’s form is pretty solid, and they have beaten UCD in their two previous meetings this season. They possess some very good midfielders, in Darragh Noone, Dayle Rooney and hugely talented Darragh Markey, while the wily veteran Adam Riley is always a threat up front. To add to their attack, Manager Kevin Doherty brought in 20 year-old striker Kyle Robinson from Shelbourne.
Drogheda are fairly solid defensively, and they can also rely on defensive midfielders Ryan Brennan and Gary Deegan to help out their young center-backs, Conor Keeley and Emmanuel Adegboyega. Adegboyega, 19, just signed his first professional contract this week.
Finn Harps v Cobh Ramblers
Finn Harps Manager Dave Rogers is a man under pressure. When he was appointed during the off-season he replaced a Harps legend in Ollie Horgan. Despite numerous challenges, Horgan won two promotions and even managed to survive in the Premier Division on a few occasions. While Rogers has had a wonderful playing career in the league, this is his first managerial role of note.
Finn Park in Ballybofey, their home ground, has historically been one of the toughest places to go and get a result in the League of Ireland. However, this season Harps have only won once, a 2-0 win over Treaty United in April. In their last eleven matches Harps have conceded 29 goals, so obviously defending is an issue. However they did manage a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Bray Wanderers last week.
The visitors Cobh Ramblers face up to one of the longest journeys of the season, a 900 km round trip, as they look to keep their momentum going. Their four-game winning streak was halted last week by runaway leaders Galway United as they were held to a 1-1 draw, despite finishing the game with ten men following Darragh Connell’s sending off.
Expect further angst from Harps fans after this game, and a comfortable Cobh Ramblers win.
Treaty United v Waterford
Waterford FC have stumbled a little over the past few weeks, which is probably understandable, as their owner Andy Piley was recently sentenced to a 13-year jail sentence for fraud. Despite that, the club are moving on, and have even made some recent moves in the transfer market. Defender Harry Nevin joined from Preston, while striker Cameron Cresswell came in from IK Start in Norway.
They currently sit second in the table, but a whopping 13 points behind Galway United. They do have the league’s leading goalscorer in Ronan Coughlan, with a phenomenal 28 goals. Manager Keith Long will be looking for a reaction from his players after dropping points to Longford Town last week, and they’ll be without Giles Phillips who got sent off in that game.
Treaty United may have had a disappointing season but they still harbour ambitions to make the playoffs, and are only three points behind Bray Wanderers. The sides have met twice already this season, with Waterford winning both encounters and scoring 11 goals.
With some serious fire-power at their disposal, expect Waterford to win, and win in style.
Bray Wanderers v Wexford
A season that promised so much for Wexford is rapidly turning into a horror-show. With a fresh rebrand of the club coinciding with major investment in players and the appointment of a new manager, many had hoped Wexford may challenge towards the top of the table this term, and there was minimum expectation of a top five finish and a place in the play-offs as a result.
However, having now passed the half-way point of the year, Wexford find themselves fourth from bottom and five points outside the play-off places. A 4-1 humbling at home to Athlone Town last week came off the back of a dreadful performance and defeat against a Longford Town team, who Wexford had raided in the off-season for players and their new manager.
So for Wexford to sit just three points ahead of that same Longford team who had to totally rebuild with a new manager and a very youthful and inexperienced set of players can only be viewed as a severe underperformance to say the least.
Defensively Wexford have been terrible this season, as highlighted by the 4-1 defeat to Athlone last Friday. That’s now 35 goals conceded in just 22 games and while Bray’s record is not much better (33) they are at least currently on a three game unbeaten run. In fact, Bray, who are managed by former Wexford boss Ian Ryan, have lost just 2 of their last 10 games so it’s fair to say they look a much more solid outfit than James Keddy’s flaky Wexford FC.
Bray Wanderers also underwent huge changes in pre-season with Ryan departing Wexford to oversee sweeping changes at the Carlisle ground with a place in the play-offs also the very minimum expected. While Bray are just about meeting that target currently, they are unbeaten after two meetings with Wexford this season (1W, 1D) and will be confident of extending their recent good form here.
Athlone Town v Galway United
The great entertainers of the First Division are hosting the runaway league leaders in County Westmeath on Friday as Athlone Town play Galway United. The Midlanders lit up Ferrycarrig Park with some stunning goals in their 4-1 win away to Wexford last time out while Galway followed up a scratchy 1-0 win against the league’s basement boys Kerry FC with a less than convincing away draw in Cobh.
With United sitting 13 points clear at the top and already thinking about Premier Division football next season they can well afford to drop the odd point here and there. However, Athlone will be looking at Galway’s recent performances as a potential blip that they can exploit with the Town winning three of their last five games to fire themselves into a strong position for play-off football at the end of the regular season.
Only the top two, who are both well backed full-time operations, have scored more goals than part-time Athlone Town this season but sadly for Athlone they’ve almost conceded as many as they’ve scored, hence the entertainers tag.
This game also has the added excitement of being a local derby and while such games can often fall into the cagey category that hasn’t been the case in this part of the world with the last four H2H ties seeing both teams score.
Athlone Town’s change in fortunes this season can be put down to the arrival of a number of talented players with American college playing backgrounds with Haitian striker Frantz Pierrot and winger Campion-Hinds the two stand outs. Pierrot, who’s brother has come up against Juventus and Lionel Messi’s PSG in the Champions League with Maccabi Haifa, has netted 15 goals in 21 appearances with many of those goals put on a plate for him by Campion-Hinds who has notched up 7 assists and 4 goals.
As for Galway, Stephen Walsh is having another stellar season upfront having played much of his career at the back with Walsh netting nine times this season. However, it’s midfielder David Hurley who tops the Galway scoring charts with 13 goals, incredibly 7 of those have come from the penalty spot.
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Written by an Andy verified content writer
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