Bohemians' last outing in this competition saw them end a seven game goalless streak as they defeated Galway United 2-0 at Dalymount Park. They picked up just one point in their six league games during that terrible run, as well as suffering the ignominy of losing on penalties to Dublin rivals Shelbourne in the EA Sports Cup.
Things were looking bleak at the time, with those results leaving the Gypsies third from bottom in the Premier Division. However, the FAI Cup victory over the Tribesmen proved to be a catalyst as Bohs went on to win five and draw three of their next ten league games, as well as defeating UCD to reach the final of the Leinster Senior Cup.
Their improved league form sees them come into this cup tie against Derry in a far healthier eighth place in the league, 11 points clear of second from bottom Wexford Youths. The Bohs squad will also be in defiant mood after their last gasp fightback against ten man Sligo Rovers in Phibsborough on Monday, coming from 2-1 down with two minutes of normal time remaining to win 3-2.
Keith Long believes the home crowd played a pivotal part in helping his side over the line against the Bit O'Red and he's calling on them again for the visit of the Candystripes on Friday night.
“It's been a while since we've seen drama like that at the end of a game at Dalymount. It gives the players real confidence going into the cup tie,” Long told bohemianfc.com. “The reception the team got from the fans at the end was brilliant - you can't underestimate the importance of the bond between players and supporters.
“In a game of small margins, when the 12th man is behind you from the start, the players value that. It gives them that little bit of extra confidence. We are at home, so we want to take the game to Derry City and give it a right go. The fans can help us do that.”
Shane Supple and Marco Chindea are ruled out with both players cup-tied having already represented Crumlin United and Athlone Town respectively in the competition this season. Goalkeeper Supple is also continuing his recovery from the ankle injury which saw him come off against Cork City last week and subsequently miss out against Sligo.
Having reached the EA Sports Cup semi-final with victories over Sligo Rovers (2-0) and Cork City (2-1 after extra-time), Derry City's cup form suddenly began to wobble. First they were held to a 1-1 draw at the Brandywell in the FAI Cup second round by Drogheda United in May. They managed to overcome the First Division side 2-1 at United Park in the replay three days later.
However, they would find themselves undone by another First Division side, Limerick, in their EA Sports Cup semi-final at the start of August, losing 1-0 at home to deny boss Kenny Shiels a first final in his maiden season at the helm. However, the Candystripes have plenty of reason for optimism ahead of their trip to Dublin.
Since losing 5-0 to Premier Division champions Dundalk on July 1st, Derry are unbeaten in their last six league games, winning three and drawing three, scoring 11 times and conceding just once in the process. This run of form has seen Shiels' men climb to second in the table, albeit sandwiched between sides who both have three games in hand due to their European involvements, Dundalk and Cork City.
The club has also done well in this competition recently, reaching two FAI Cup finals in the last four seasons, lifting the trophy in 2012 but falling short at the final hurdle in 2014. Derry's latest tilt will continue without skipper Ryan McBride and Aaron Barry, however, with both set to miss the Bohemians game through injury.
New signing Cristian Castells is available for selection, though, and considering the dearth of backline options at Shiels' disposal, the Spanish defender comes into contention despite having just one weeks' training under his belt.
“I have to take a look at that and see if he's ready to go in,” admitted the Derry boss to BBC Radio Foyle. “Sometimes you put a player in too early and I have to be cautious because a defender's not like any other player in the team. If it's an attacking player, a midfielder or a forward, and they make a mistake, it's less damaging.
“But defenders have to be spot on in their concentration and their focus, so when you're bringing a defender in he has to be ready.”
Shiels added that top scorer Rory Patterson came through training fine after a slight injury and would be available against Bohs, while also admitting that he would be making three or four changes to the side to add some “fresh legs” after five games in 13 days.
Referee: Tomas Connolly.
Bohemians are unbeaten since losing 1-0 to Derry City at Dalymount Park on July 22nd.
Derry City haven't failed to reach the FAI Cup quarter-finals since losing 4-1 to Wexford Youths at Ferrycarrig Park in 2011.
Bohemians 19/10; Draw 21/10; Derry City 6/5.
Bohemians 2-1 Derry City.
Injured: Shane Supple (ankle).
Cup tied: Shane Supple, Marco Chindea.
Injured: Ryan McBride, Aaron Barry.
Fran Reilly joined Extratime.ie in February 2015 having previously written for the Drogheda/Fingal Independents, loi19.com and the Cork City matchday programme. Though only part of the ET family for a relatively short time, the Donaghmede native has already had the opportunity to cover League of Ireland clubs both domestically and in Europe, as well as Republic of Ireland internationals. He can count Martin O'Neill, Roy Keane and Dutch footballing legend Ruud Gullit amongst those he has come face-to-face with during his line of ET work. He still hopes to someday meet Henrik Larsson.
Fran was once sent to watch Lionel Messi play in the Aviva Stadium for Barcelona but left feeling underwhelmed as his performance fell some way short of replicating Wes Hoolahan's against Deportivo la Coruna in August 2004. That famous night was enough to make Fran a Shels fan and he even pulled on the red shirt himself once for Owen Heary's tribute match in November 2013. Hilariously, he saw a penalty saved by unforgiving goalkeeper Lee Murphy, then at Bohemians.
His one day spell as a member of the Extratime media six-a-side panel fared no better, his status as a reporter coming under threat following a string of less than inspirational performances. However, he convinced the ET hierarchy to persevere with him so he lingers on, covering whatever clubs he can reach by public transport. You can follow Fran on Twitter (@FranTomReilly) where he spends most of his time retweeting other people's LOI views and news and claiming them as his own.
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