ALAN Mathews dismissed suggestions that the pendulum had now swung in Shelbourne’s favour for tomorrow night’s FAI Cup semi-final replay at Tolka Park against Derry City. (Kick-off: 8.00 p.m.)
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
“I don’t see it that way,” he answered. “Last year we were held to a draw by St. Pat’s at this same stage of the competition, but we travel to Richmond Park and returned with a 3-1 victory, so I don’t accept that the pendulum has swung in our favour.
“It’s another cup match, it may well be a different type of game but yes, we will be playing at home and we must try to take advantage of that fact,” he added.
“Derry City defeated us 2-0 in Dublin in August, so they will travel with confidence and we’ve got to be prepared for that. But it’s a cup tie and in cup ties anything can happen on the day.
“I think there could be changes in personnel on both sides, but I do expect it to be close as there is a big prize on offer,” he concluded.
Disappointed at not making home advantage count on Sunday, Derry City continue to have injury worries with Barry Molloy clearly struggling through the final 15 minutes of Sunday’s game.
And Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, agreed that his midfield general was a “major doubt” at this stage.
“The players were in the pool early this morning (yesterday) in an attempt to ease any knocks sustained in the game and Barry Molloy appeared to cramp-up during the final stages of the game,” confirmed Devine.
“He’s had a hip flexor problem on top of thigh but he believes that injury was okay. He felt he took cramps during the game, so we’ll have to wait and see how he gets on and make a decision at the last minute,” added Devine.
“Obviously, he’s a very important player for us but if he can’t get around the pitch the way we need him, then it would be pointless selecting him for the starting line-up. But he still has time and he has been receiving regular treatment, so we haven’t give up hope on Barry playing just yet.”
With Rory Patterson’s selection on Sunday coming as major shock to most observers, Devine argued that the striker was better starting rather that entering the fray as a substitute.
“Rory got through a few tough tests before he was passed fit to play and while we always knew that he would not get any more than an hour’s involvement, he worked hard and, hopefully, he will be okay for the replay on Wednesday night. We’re hopeful that he will be fit enough to play two games in four days, that’s his only problem.
“He is considered our No. 1 striker this season. He’s a top finisher in front of goal and while he has been out for 18 weeks, we felt if he was presented with scoring chances he would be well placed to take advantage of them.
“Unfortunately for us, during the opening hour we failed to create clear-cut chances for Rory and, therefore, the gamble didn’t pay off as well as we would have liked. That said, he got through the test and the hour on the pitch will stand him in good stead for the replay,” claimed the Derry boss.
Stephen McLaughlin also appeared to be nursing an injury as both he and Patrick McEleney failed to make significant progress on either flank on Sunday, but Devine pointed to conceding an early goal.
“I think that early goal actually knocked the stuffing out of us,” he declared. “We appeared to get very nervous after the goal and it was a poor one to concede from a defensive viewpoint.
“On another night we probably would not have conceded that goal, we would have been more alert to the situation and defended it better. But we do have players who certainly require game-time after coming back from injuries over the past few weeks.
“Stewart Greacen is one such player. He’s still playing catch-up after returning from ankle ligament damage and he’s one who needs more game-time, but I felt Shane McEleney certainly upped his performance, particularly in the second half, when he looked very comfortable.”
Devine agreed that his side would face a tough test tomorrow night, but given that Derry have already won in Tolka Park this season, he believes his troops can repeat that victory.
But how did he see the game progressing?
“I think both side will attempt to go with the same players and while I believe both will go all out for the victory, I think it could prove a very interesting match.
“But we’re travelling to have a go as we believe it’s match we are capable of winning, however, we must be strong defensively at Tolka Park which I consider to be a proper stadium with a good atmosphere.
“The pitch is not as good as it has been in the past, but our lads are looking forward to the game. During the second half on Sunday, when we managed to play a bit, we bossed the game and we’ll be looking to do just that and try and get an early foothold on the proceedings.
“I’d like to think we will give a good account of ourselves and try to control the match if we can.
“We will be travelling with a similar panel to that which was involved on Sunday afternoon and while Wednesday will prove to be a different game, I believe we have match-winners in our squad and, hopefully, those players will play to their potential and help get us to play in the final at the Aviva Stadium on November 4th,” he concluded.