Neil McDonald says Limerick must “concentrate on our own game” as they prepare to face Drogheda United at United Park on Friday night (7.45pm), where he is hoping to see improvements in certain areas to complement their “excellent” attacking play.
The Shannonsiders are without a clean-sheet in over two months and will be keen to address that statistic having surrendered a two-goal lead in the second half of last week’s 2-2 draw with Saint Patrick’s Athletic at the Markets Field.
The manager was pleased to see his players continue their free-scoring form but they have been hard at work on the training pitch at UL this week as they look to tighten up defensively, in a game where they could move ten points clear of Drogheda.
“Training has been great this week. The buzz has been really good. We’re still disappointed that we didn’t come out of the St Pat’s game with full points, but a point was gladly taken,” McDonald said.
“It’s always disappointing when you get a 2-0 lead and it slips away from you. We still had chances to win the game after that. There are aspects of the game that we still need to get better on which we’re working on in training.
“Our attacking play and counter-attacking is excellent and we’re scoring freely which is good. We’re creating chances and we must keep on doing that – that would give us a good chance to win against Drogheda.
“I’ve watched them and I’ve seen some video clips. They look well organised and they have got a couple of players that can cause problems. We have to be aware of that. But we have to concentrate on our own game more so than any other thing and try to impose our game on them.”
Meanwhile, captain Shane Duggan admits the manner of their concessions last week was “frustrating” and he has targeted a first clean-sheet in 12 games – since the last time they faced Drogheda, at the Markets Field on 15 April.
Duggy said: “Every game is big this season. We know what they’re going to be like up in Drogheda. They’re a very tough team to play against, especially at home. We’re expecting a difficult task but I think it’s games like these – where our backs are against it, we respond and get good results. Hopefully, we can get three points on Friday.
“It’s a tight pitch and they work extremely hard. We really have to be on our game and any chances we get we really have to take them. We want to keep a clean-sheet too; we haven’t kept one in a long time. As a team, we have to work better on that, starting this week.”
Seventh-placed Limerick and tenth-placed Drogheda – who both gained promotion from the First Division last season – have already met once in 2017 with the Blues easing to a 3-0 win at the Markets Field in April thanks to goals from Rodrigo Tosi, Chris Mulhall and Chiedozie Ogbene.
Drogheda are without a win at home since defeating Shamrock Rovers 2-1 in April, and they have failed to score in their last three outings on Boyneside. Limerick, meanwhile, have lost their last two away games – at Finn Harps (2-3) and Cork City (1-4) – having previously won 2-1 at Bohemians.
Team News: Manager Neil McDonald has a fully-fit squad to choose from for the long trip north, with the exception of young defender Barry Cotter (knee). Fellow centre-half Tony Whitehead (dead leg) comes back into contention having missed out through injury last weekend.
Officials: Referee for Friday’s game is Robert Harvey; his assistants are Mark Gavin and Darren Carey, with the fourth official Ray Matthews.
Preview Date: Thursday 29 June 2017