It’s off to Ireland via a quick stop in Austria for the next round of Friday’s Best Bets, with each of our respective League Scouts giving their insight into any potential value that can be found.
The anticipation is reaching its peak in the Austrian Bundesliga as Lustenau host Hartberg with both sides hunting for a European place, whilst Finn Harps will look to edge out fellow strugglers Kerry in the League of Ireland First Division.
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Austria Lustenau v TSV Hartberg
The most meaningful of the Friday fixtures is a battle out west between European play-off hopefuls Lustenau and Hartberg. Lustenau would secure their spot with a point, but a win could even see them top the group if WAC slip-up. Hartberg must win to overtake the home side and sneak into second spot at the death. Second place in the bottom six group may not sound like much to write home about, but for either of these teams, a back-door to European football would be a major achievement, and the winners will enjoy their moment.
Austria Lustenau have the home advantage, as well as the unique record of having scored in every round of the Relegation Group, taking their tally 10 goals above their xG figure for the year (45/35). In Lukas Fridrikas they now have an impressive striker who has reached double figures, ably assisted by the control and assuredness of Anderson up top. However, at the back they simply leak goals, having allowed both Ried and WSG to score four at their home ground in recent weeks, as they have stalled with four score-draws in their last five games.
Hartberg, on the other hand, have made a terrific late jump up the table after a run of just one defeat in eight, and three wins from their last four. The nous of Donis Avdijaj is paying off for them in attack, and with the pacy young Roma-loanee Ruben Providence alongside him, plus the quality of Dominiks Frieser and Prokop in midfield, there’s a reason for the club’s newfound form. Either side would be deserving of the play-off spot in their own way, but it should be a great contest with a nice prize on the line, and we can certainly see both teams getting goals.
Drogheda United v Cork City
Having caused the upset of the season so far by toppling champions Shamrock Rovers in their own backyard, Drogheda United backed up that result by recording consecutive wins for the first time this season with a victory at home to UCD.
On loan Lincoln City striker Freddie Draper has come to life in recent weeks with three goals in those two matches and the teenager will fancy his chances against a Cork City side who have conceded the second most goals in the division (33 goals in 17 games).
However, City have also won their last two but it took an eternity for managerless Cork to break down EIGHT MAN Shamrock Rovers last time out. The fact the home side recorded just one shot on target against a team that had three players sent off is a good indication as to why Cork City sit second bottom in the table.
Drogheda United are five points clear of Cork going into this one and should be an awful lot further clear of the bottom two. Kevin Doherty will be hoping his side has turned a corner now in terms of their effectiveness in front of goal and the Louth men have more than enough to come away with three points here.
However, interim City boss Liam Buckley has made his team that little bit harder to beat in recent weeks with the Rebels recording consecutive clean sheets which is perhaps the most pleasing aspect of their recent results aside from the crucial points themselves.
As a result, we’ll play this one slightly cautiously but while very much leaning Drogheda’s way.
UCD v St. Patrick’s Athletic
While Jon Daly had already engineered three wins from his first four matches in charge of St. Pat’s, there was a feeling that last Friday’s home game against Dundalk was the real starting point for the newly elected Saints boss as one of his predecessors came to town for a crucial game in that race for Europe.
Despite going down to ten men, in a game week filled with red cards across the League of Ireland, Pats came away with a 2-1 win that will go a long way to winning over any doubters Daly may have had. The nature of the win and the atmosphere created in the ground as a result feels like a potential turning point in the Saints season.
As for UCD, The Students are actually playing some really good stuff but such commentary soon becomes redundant when you realise they have now lost their last 5 games and have collected just 6 points from a possible 51 all season (P17, W1, D3, L13).
UCD took the lead away to Drogheda last week and then hit the crossbar to go 2-0 in front before losing 3-1. UCD have now seen over 2.5 goals scored in their last 3 games while St. Pat’s top the over 2.5 goals table this season with 11 of their 17 games reaching that threshold.
Finn Harps v Kerry FC
Finn Harps shocked us all by recording a 3-0 win away to an in-form Treaty United side last Friday and the Donegal men are now handed the perfect opportunity to win back-to-back matches for the first time this season as the league’s whipping boys Kerry FC make the longest journey of the entire season.
Kerry FC recorded their first-ever win at this level when beating Athlone Town 3-2 a couple of weeks ago but hopes of seeing the league’s newest side kicking on have quickly vanished after a 2-0 loss at home to Bray and an embarrassing 6-0 thrashing from a struggling Wexford last week.
The manner of the goals Kerry shipped in that game is beyond amateur and represents a team who are clearly out of their depth at this level. While Finn Harps are enjoying a far-from-stellar season, they should have too much at home for the amateurs given Harps are effectively a full-time outfit.
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Written by an Andy verified content writer
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