PREVIEW: “WE NEED THE SUPPORTERS TO GET RIGHT BEHIND US” – TAYLOR
Limerick manager Stuart Taylor has called for a “big support” to come out in force as his players attempt to protect a four-match unbeaten run when they face a third game in seven days against Sligo Rovers at Thomond Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
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The Superblues have had an average attendance of 1,101 in their opening three home league games this term compared to 2,826 in the same period last year, with the club also pleading for a sizeable turnout.
Taylor’s team have been in good form recently and are currently enjoying a four-match unbeaten run in the Premier Division, winning two of those, away to Bohemians and at home to Athlone Town. In that period, they have also qualified for the Munster Senior Cup final.
Last week’s first home win of the season against Athlone was followed by a good point against Derry City at The Brandywell on Easter Monday, where Limerick may well have taken all three.
Now, they welcome in-form FAI Cup holders Sligo to Thomond Park, with the Bit O’ Red having jumped to sixth by picking up eight points from the last 12 available, including recording back-to-back wins over UCD and Bohs.
Limerick took just a point from their three league meetings with Sligo last season, and while knowing the size of the task facing his side, Taylor says an “encouraging” support can help his players along in their third game in the space of a week.
The Scot has also reported that his squad are “more confident going into this game” than previous ones, having built up an extended unbeaten run.
“Sligo are a good side, there’s no doubt about it,” the boss told LimerickFC.ie. “We need to be on our toes and on our game, every single one of us as an individual, and collectively we’re going to have to be right as well.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league and one of the most experienced teams. We need a good turnout from the supporters to get behind the boys.
“The boys are going to be tired with it obviously being their third game in a week. We’re going to need a big support and an encouraging support as well, just like what it was last year and as it was in the last game against Athlone.
“In the second half, they were great – they banged the drum, they sang their songs and they got behind the boys. It does make a difference to us every time that happens. The boys get a good spell in the game and we always seem to get a goal. We need the supporters to get right behind us.
“It’s going to be a very difficult game because Sligo are flying high just now. They’ve come into a bit of form. Unfortunately, they’ve leapfrogged us in the table. That was disappointing obviously with the result that we had on Monday.
“I went to see them a couple of weeks ago. They are getting everybody back on track. They had a similar start to ourselves but they’re going well now.
“They had a great result recently against St. Pat’s (5-1 in the Setanta Sports Cup) and since then they’ve been on a run and won their games.”
Sligo have scored 12 goals in their last three games in all competitions so Limerick are aware they will have to be at their best to retain the second-best defence in the league which they currently have.
“We need to be on our toes,” Taylor said, “make sure we’re alert and concentrating for the full game and continuing to defend in the way we have been and keep a clean-sheet.
“We’ve got to make sure that when we get forward we do things quick and get bodies in the box. Sligo are a fit side and an experienced side and we need to make sure we catch them quick on the break.
“I was very impressed with them against St. Pat’s. I felt that they set up to defend and hit on the break obviously with the scoreline from the first leg. They picked St. Pat’s off and once the first goal went in then St. Pats’ head went down and Sligo got confidence from it.
“I like them as a team. I think they play really good football. They’ve got a lot of experience about their squad and they’ve got quality as well. I think they’ll do very well this season.”
Limerick felt aggrieved in their first meeting with Sligo last term as Danny Galbraith was denied a clear penalty at the death which could have earned them a draw at The Showgrounds.
“We did very well the first time we went up there and we were unfortunate not to get a penalty in the last minute,” Stuart recalled.
“In the second game down here, we drew 0-0. It was a good point for us and a good confidence booster as well because of the way the boys played that day. We’re capable of doing that.
“I would say we’re more confident going into this game than what we have been previously. We’re looking to get something out of the game. The boys are going well and confidence is high.
“They’re looking forward to every game now. The players are just looking to go and play games of football, which is always good as a manager. It’s always good to stand back and watch them because when they do play, they play some decent stuff and they’re entertaining to watch.
“Confidence has been good in training in the last couple of weeks. I always said that our first win was around the corner because you could see it coming in training. It has been exactly the same this week. We’re looking forward to Friday night’s game.”
Team News: Centre-half Michael Leahy (groin) has suffered a slight setback in his bid to regain full fitness.
On the positive side, Scottish winger Danny Galbraith (hamstring) will resume full training in the coming days having been absent since last September. English striker and vice-captain Craig Curran (hamstring) will face a late fitness test. The versatile Patrick Nzuzi returns from suspension.
Club captain Shane Duggan will play his last game as a single man as he prepares to tie the knot with his fiancée this weekend.
Recent Meetings: In the sides’ first meeting last season, Curran gave Limerick a 33rd-minute lead before Anthony Elding levelled deep in first-half injury-time. Defender Jeff Henderson then struck an 84th-minute winner before Galbraith was denied a late penalty, the winger instead being booked for alleged simulation.
In a televised game at Thomond Park in May, the sides played out a scoreless draw, before Henderson, Gavin Peers, Danny North and Evan McMillan netted in a 4-0 League Cup win at the Munster venue in July.
Back at The Showgrounds in late August, Raffaele Cretaro and North scored early in each half to secure a 2-0 win for Sligo.
Preview Date: Thursday 24 April 2014