Dundalk FC's Dane Massey and Michael Duffy embrace during last summer's meeting of the Lilywhites and Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds. (Pic: Sportsfile)
Dundalk FC goalkeeper Gary Rogers wants to see the defending champions “come back strong” when they face his old club, struggling Sligo Rovers, in a must-win SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash at The Showgrounds on Friday night (7.45pm).
This fixture has been brought forward as a result of next Monday’s rearranged visit of Bohemians, meaning that Dundalk will at least now play on the same evening as leaders Shamrock Rovers, who are 10 points clear at the summit.
Vinny Perth’s side would have been hoping for a much different outcome – both in their own game and on Rovers’ visit to Cork – last Friday. But while the Hoops have a double-digit advantage, the Lilywhites – outwardly anyway – are remaining cool-headed, with two games still in hand.
If Dundalk could have hand-picked one away game to have this weekend, it would be Sligo. The Bit O’ Red were atrocious on home turf last term, winning only four of 18 outings. This year, they have continued that, with three defeats in four. Their only victory was an extremely fortunate 1-0 success over UCD, who played them off the park.
However, Rogers – who won a Premier Division title and FAI Cup in his time at Sligo – knows that, historically, it could be a difficult assignment.
“After a defeat, you’re looking at the next game,” the 37-year-old stopper said, after last Friday’s first defeat of the season at St. Patrick’s Athletic.
“Sligo away is always a tough challenge, but we’ll look forward to getting back on the pitch and trying to put things right. The way you put it right is on the scoreboard and the league table. We’ll look ahead to the next two games coming up and hopefully we’ll pick up a few points.”
Rogers praised Daniel Cleary as a “smashing defender”, after a rare mistake from the young centre-half was Dundalk’s downfall in Dublin. The Navan native feels decisions could have been more favourable for his team this season.
He said: “I think we probably could have squeezed a draw out of it in the end – we had a couple of opportunities in the second half. We had a strong penalty claim, from where I was.
“I think anywhere else on the pitch, it’s a free, so therefore it should have been a penalty. I think we’ve had a few penalty decisions over the course of the season. Hopefully, those decisions will turn for us and we’ll benefit from them down the line. We didn’t get the rub of the green in terms of those decisions, but we can’t blame that on the result.
“Everyone, collectively, will want to come back strong next week. We’ll go and get a good week’s training under our belt, and perform as well as we can in Sligo.”