SSE Airtricity League Premier Division

'It's right before Europe starts, so players will feel like they have something to prove' - Perth rallies Dundalk ahead of Derry test

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division

Keith Wallace

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Keith Wallace

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sport@dundalkdemocrat.ie

'It's right before Europe starts, so players will feel like they have something to prove' - Perth rallies Dundalk ahead of Derry test

Vinny Perth says Friday night’s trip to Derry City is a “big, big game” ahead of a testing few weeks for Dundalk FC. (Pic: Ben McShane/Sportsfile)

Vinny Perth says Friday night’s trip to Derry City is a “big, big game” ahead of a testing few weeks for Dundalk FC.

The Lilywhites have been simply superb since leaving Sligo under a dark cloud almost three months ago. Since suffering successive defeats, they have embarked on a 15-match unbeaten run in all competitions, including 13 wins out of 14 in the league.

The one blip in that sequence came against Derry at Oriel Park in early May when Perth’s side sloppily surrendered a two-goal lead in the final quarter.

The Candystripes have been rejuvenated under returning boss Declan Devine this season and are right in contention for European qualification, currently sitting in fourth.

With ex-Lilywhite goalkeeper Peter Cherrie in stunning form between the sticks, they have taken points from Shamrock Rovers, Cork City and Bohemians in their last three outings, including an impressive 4-1 win at Turner’s Cross.

With this weekend being Dundalk’s last league fixture for at least two weeks – probably longer – Perth stressed its importance, with the boss keen to preserve their eight-point advantage over Shamrock Rovers at the top of the table.

And he hopes the desire for a starting slot against Riga will ensure another top performance at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, where Dundalk are undefeated since 2012.

“It’s a big, big game for us going up there. Obviously, it’s right before Europe starts, so players will feel like they have something to prove up there,” Perth said, after his team made it eight straight league wins by seeing off Waterford 3-0 at Oriel Park on Monday night.

“We have got to get the right selection, because Derry is a really, really tough game for us, and has been over the years here – we’ve always had tough games. Hopefully, we come out on the right side of it. We need to focus ahead of Friday.”

Meanwhile, Derry have added recent signings Darren McCauley and Conor Davis to their squad for Friday’s game, along with former City defender Mark McCrystal, who has returned to the club until the end of the season.

Speaking ahead of the fixture, manager Devine has said: “We were excellent in Cork last weekend and although I felt the ludicrous amount of travel caught up with us in the second half at Bohs on Monday, we were full value for at least the draw there.

“Dundalk are a fantastic side, possibly the best this league has ever seen, and while a team like that demands maximum respect, we can’t stand and admire them.

“There is likely to be a full house at Brandywell for the game and there’s nowhere we’d rather play than with that passionate support behind us.”