Both Finn Harps and Wexford Youths’ first choice goalkeepers are suspended ahead of the final game of the season at Finn Park tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).
Christopher Patton will make his Harps debut, replacing Ciaran Gallagher, who obtained one-match ban for amassing four cautions, while teenager Sean Allen will line out for the south-easterners for only the second time after Packie Holden was red-carded against Waterford United last weekend.
Harps’ midfielder-cum-striker Stephen O’Donnell will also sit out the game having been sent at Turner’s Cross against Cork City two weeks ago. Ciaran Coll has been suffering with tonsillitis this week although manager Peter Hutton is hopeful the left-back will be available.
“This is a good opportunity for Christopher to show what he can do,” Hutton said. “I’m sure he has been chomping at the bit all season to get a chance but Ciaran’s form has been good so he’s had to bide his time but now his chance has come.”
Shelbourne’s involvement in the FAI Cup semi-finals – they beat St Patrick’s Athletic 3-1 on Tuesday night following a 1-1 draw on Friday– meant the Harps squad had to be content with a training match between one another at the Finn Valley Centre in Stranorlar last Saturday.
Wexford spoilt Hutton and director of football Felix Healy’s first game in charge at Harps when a late Danny Furlong volley was the only goal of the game at Finn Park in March. In the return, two Blain Curtis goals at Ferrycarrig Park were enough for a useful Harps win in July.
“We produced one of our better performances of the season away to Wexford and probably could’ve won by more on the night,” Hutton added. “But they’re a young and enthusiastic team so we’ll have to be on our guard. We’d like to put on a good performance, though, and obviously get the right result seeing it’s the final home game of the campaign.”
Harps currently sit third from bottom in the Division One table, four points in front of Saturday’s opponents with a game in hand. And while the Ballybofey club’s form has improved a little of late, Wexford have only picked up two points from their last 36 available and have not won since the weekend before they and Harps last met. Paul Malone has a knee problem and will miss the long trek on Saturday, as will Michael Mullen with a back complaint.
“I don’t think I’m confident or apprehensive,” manager Noel O’Connor said of the Saturday fixture. “I’d be hopeful we give a good show and we are going to be positive and we will be in terms of the formation as well. I don’t know what frame of mind Finn Harps are in coming to the end of the season but it’ll be an open game of football.
“They could be trying players for next season. We’ve a good enough record in Ballybofey. We’ll be looking for our fourth win in Ballybofey. In fairness to Harps they always have a tradition of playing good football and that’ll suit us.”