LEAGUE OF IRELAND

Changes likely as Harps prepare for play-off second leg with Drogheda

Big crowd expected at Finn Park on Friday night

Diarmaid Doherty

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Diarmaid Doherty

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Sport@donegaldemocrat.com

Finn Harps v Drogheda preview

Nathan Boyle is surrounded by team-mates as they celebrate his equalising goal in front of the travelling supporters during Friday night's play-off first leg at United Park PICTURE: Drogheda United FC

Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan has promised to make changes to his side as he plots the downfall of Drogheda United when the sides meet in Friday night’s promotion play-off second leg at Finn Park (7.45pm).
With Gareth Harkin likely to miss out after coming off injured in last Friday night’s drawn first leg at United Park, Horgan will have to reshuffle his pack.
However, that’s unlikely to be the only change as Harps look to improve on what the manager accepted was a disappointing performance last weekend.
“While we got a good result on paper, our performance, I won’t say it didn’t merit it, but we have to be better to try and compete on Friday night,” he said.
“We were hanging on for the last 20 minutes up there and that wont be good enough to try and progress to a final in the play-offs.”

Drogheda United defender Ciaran Kelly punches the air with delight after firing his team in front against Finn Harps last Friday night
Picture: Drogheda United FC

Mark Coyle is an option to come in for Harkin if the Letterkenny man doesn’t play on Friday night. The former Cockhill Celtic player was very impressive when he came off the bench at United Park, although his manager did say the player might not be able to play for the full 90 minutes because of his own injury problems.
Nathan Boyle, the scorer of the second half equaliser last weekend, is also pushing for a start.
Friday night’s game is very much a ‘winner-takes-all’ affair. With away goals not counting, the match will go to extra-time and penalties if the aggregate scores remain level. The winners will then go through to the final of the promotion/relegation play-offs where Limerick are likely to provide the opposition.

FIRST LEG: Boyle strike earns Harps 1-1 draw 

Drama
Drogheda have already experienced the drama of spot kicks in these play-offs, having come through on spot-kicks at the end of their play-off with Shelbourne.
And while Harps went into last Friday night’s opening leg as strong favourites, they came up against a Drogheda team who showed no ill-effects from their two games with Shels.
“Drogheda were a credit and they will be quite happy that they have a full week to recover,” Horgan said.
“We looked like the team that had played 120 minutes in Tolka Park and that’s huge credit to Drogheda. They are a good side.
“But at the same time, we’ve gone now 11 games without defeat in the First Division. The only game we have lost since the break is the cup game in Dundalk and there’s not a lot of shame in that.
“We looked like we were going to get turned over on Friday night but out of sheer stubbornness more than anything, we got back in.
“But we have to get better. Drogheda will feel they should have won it on Friday last, and that’s them coming off two games with extra time and penalties.”
And predicting another close encounter, Horgan said: “We have played four games, and there has been nothing in them.
“Funny enough, the games we won probably should have gone the other way. The game on Friday night, maybe they should have won.
“There’ll be nothing in it on Friday night, but only if we play well.”