Dundalk FC stand before their early season meeting with Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. (Pic: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile)
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In many ways, a trip to The Brandywell is the hardest possible pre-Europe league game Dundalk FC could have been lumbered with.
Granted The Lilywhites have a strong recent-year record at the Foyleside venue - and haven’t lost there since the Bogside base has been renovated - they’re facing into a tricky test.
Prior to their draw at Dalymount Park on Monday night, Declan Devine’s Derry had beaten - or, hammered - Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Friday night, a victory which came on the back of a come-from-behind, 2-2 draw in Tallaght.
It must be acknowledged that The Candystripes are approaching the game in high spirits, with young English attacker Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe on form, having doubled his league account with three goals away to Cork.
Although goals aren’t something Derry have necessarily been short of this season, their tally of 34 being the league’s second highest - after Dundalk’s 44 - following 21 outings.
Though they appear to have defensive issues, which is certainly not ideal given the Premier Division’s most prolific offence are making the trip.
Their 22 concessions - a tally on record prior to last night’s fixture - is the highest of the teams currently in the top-half and is something they will surely be seeking to eradicate, given that Dundalk have contributed to just under 20 percent of the figure, scoring twice home and away.
The most recent meeting, at Oriel Park, saw The Candystripes recover from 2-0 in arrears to rescue a point, an outcome which they would arguably take a repeat of.
At present, Devine’s side are locked in a battle with St. Patrick’s Athletic in the race to finish fourth, a position which generally provides finishers with entry to Europe. Ultimately, getting back into continental competition is a priority for City having missed out last time around.
It promises to be another major night on the title and European fronts.