FINN Harps enter the last game of the first half of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division campaign tonight knowing that a victory over the last Longford Town club in Ballybofey will give them a little more breathing space.
After a great start to the season, which saw them briefly top the standings, Harps has stuttered in recent weeks and is now eighth.
The victory over Longford would leave them 14 points ahead of the Midlanders, but the loss would close the gap to eight.
Harps boss Ollie Horgan points out that there is an awful lot of football to be played and that in 2019 Harps actually played 16 games before registering a victory.
“It all depends on where you end up on the last day of the season,” he says.
Harps hasn’t won at home since April 10, but Longford has won only once in 17 outings.
Nonetheless, Harps assistant manager Paul Hegarty warns the Midlanders have produced good performances.
“Longford has been very good this season. They went to Oriel Park (last Friday) and scored a good point against Dundalk and deserved it.
“By all accounts they were also very good against Waterford on Monday night but came away with nothing.”
When the two teams met earlier this season, Harps had to settle for a point.
“To be honest, that night we had enough good chances of winning,” Hegarty said.
“It was probably another disappointing night for us. We had chances to win the game and we didn’t take them. It has been a problem. We created opportunities for ourselves this year and we didn’t seize them. It cost us a lot of time.
Karl O’Sullivan is back from suspension for Harps, but Johnny Dunleavy and Dave Webster are both out due to injury.
Nathan Logue, Luke Rodden and Joel Bradley Walsh all made their substitutes debut in the loss to St Patrick’s Athletic on Monday night as Horgan drew on his squad to face three games in eight days.
Meanwhile, Mark Russell – who has been an important figure for Harps for the past two and a half years – has returned to his native Scotland.
The midfielder has signed a deal with one of his former clubs Greenock Morton.