Dundalk Welcome Drogheda United to Oriel Park on Friday Night
With just two weeks to go until the restart of the SSE Airtricity League campaign, Dundalk will play host to Drogheda United in another behind closed doors friendly at Oriel Park on Friday night.
The game will be Dundalk’s third in the space of just seven days as Vinny Perth’s men continue to build up their fitness and sharpness ahead of St Patrick’s Athletic’s visit on July 31st.
“The games we have played against Bohemians and Derry City may have been billed as friendlies but they were very competitive and so will the match with Drogheda United on Friday night,” said Perth.
“Our fitness levels are that good that we are able to throw in a lot of games and work on different systems. Drogheda will be there or thereabouts in the promotion race from division one so it’s another good test.”
After returning to action with a 1-1 draw against Derry City last Friday, Dundalk stepped things up on Tuesday night with an impressive display against Bohs which saw Jordan Flores, Dane Massey, Sean Gannon and Patrick Hoban all on the scoresheet in a 4-1 victory.
“The Bohemians game was really competitive, particularly in the first hour,” said Perth. “We have to improve on certain aspects of our play but I was really happy with the intensity of our pressing and our fitness levels.
“In the two games we’ve played, the opposition hasn’t been in our box on too many occasions which is a good sign. We dominated the ball in both games and created a lot of chances and I feel we will be able to go up another level when things get competitive.”
Friday night’s derby encounter will get underway at 7.30pm and the Lilywhites manager said there was a marked contrast between evening games and the Derry match which started at 4pm. “Having the floodlights on is massive and it creates a bit of atmosphere in the ground,” said Perth.
League fixtures will be spread across three days when the season resumes but the Dundalk boss voiced his frustration that kick-off times will be staggered between 5pm, 5.45pm and 7.45pm to help live streaming.
“I’m not happy with these 5.45pm kick-offs,” he said. “People seem to be making decisions without anyone even agreeing to it. You’re going to have people travelling all over the country for 5.45pm kick-offs. It’s just not right.”
The schedule is another bugbear for the 42-year-old, particularly around Dundalk’s Champions League tie on August 18th/19th. As it stands, the Lilywhites face a 5pm kick-off away to Sligo Rovers on August 22nd, even if they are drawn away from home in the first round.
“We’ve got the weak punishing the strong,” he said. “The league can’t go beyond October and we’re going to cram games in. It’s mad stuff.
“If we’re away in Europe in the first round we’re going to have a lot of travel and then we have to play a game with a lot of travelling so soon after it. There are FAI rules there that we will enforce, whether people like it or not.”
*Supporters are asked to note that we will not be streaming Friday night’s game with Drogheda United.