Despite winning the opening day meeting of the two clubs, Finn Harps and Ollie Horgan know they will have their work cut out to get anything out of Tuesday night’s trip to the Brandywell as they get ready to face Derry City for the second time this season.
While Derry looked out of sorts in the 4th March meeting at Finn Park, they have gone on to lose only once in their next ten games and have taken 23 points out of a possible 30 since leaving Finn Park with that opening 2-1 loss.
Harps, for their part, have also started the season well and picked up their 12th point of the season on Friday night after a scoreless draw with Bohemians at Finn Park. Although not quite in the form of their near neighbours, nobody at Finn Park will be complaining too much about how they have started the campaign.
“Derry are third in the table for a reason and have been in excellent form,” said Harps boss Horgan ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
“It could be a long evening for us especially with the quality that Derry have in their squad. It will be hugely difficult to get a result in there but we’ll prepare as best as we can and see where that takes us.”
“We were lucky to pick up a point on Friday night,” said Horgan of the scoreless draw with Bohemians at Finn Park. “It was not just with the penalty save at the end but in general we didn't play well enough.”
Tuesday’s game with Derry won’t be any easier as the injury list at Finn Park continues to grow. Josh Mailey (groin) Raymond Foy (hamstring), Michael Rafter (ankle) and Matthew Crossan (knee) were already out but will be joined on the sidelines by Gareth Harkin (calf) and Keith Cowan (foot) who both picked up knocks during the game with Bohemians on Friday.
Tuesday’s game will be the 31st meeting of the two clubs at the Brandywell and, as Horgan warmed, it will be difficult for Harps to take anything from the game. History is also not on their side. In the 30 previous meetings in Derry, Harps have only won twice and drawn four times in those games. In more cases than not, Derry have emerged victorious.
It’s the first of a difficult week of fixtures for Harps who follow up Tuesday’s trip to 3rd placed Derry with a visit of back-to-back Champions and current league leaders Dundalk to Finn Park on Friday.