Dundalk head west seeking their first win of the 2024 SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division season when they take on Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Friday night, having made their worst-ever start in the club’s near 100-year league history.

The Lilywhites displayed plenty of attacking intent against Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Monday but never tested ‘keeper Kacper Chorazka, eventually going on to lose the game 1-0 after James Akintunde struck ten minutes from time.

Dundalk won at the tenth attempt in the 1998/99 season, which ended in relegation, but now they go into their 11th fixture having drawn four times – three of those scoreless – and suffered six defeats, leaving them four points adrift at the bottom of the table.

Their failure to fire in front of goal is a serious worry, having netted just three times in total, of which two were effectively consolations, and despite possession and pressure, they could not manage a single shot on target against Bohs.

Lacking confidence in the final third, they have not led a game since the 59th minute of the opening day in February, when Shamrock Rovers’ Aaron Greene cancelled out Jamie Gullan’s free-kick at Tallaght Stadium.

Now, they face a Sligo side that they were annihilated 5-0 by at Oriel Park in March, although performances have certainly improved since then. In their subsequent league outings, with the exception of their trip to Derry – Stephen O’Donnell’s final match in charge – they have either drawn or lost by one goal.

The club announced on Wednesday that they are inviting applications for the position of a new first-team manager, with the interim duo of Liam Burns and Brian Gartland remaining in the dugout for Friday’s journey cross-country.

Dundalk have lost on four of their five road trips this season, at Saint Patrick’s Athletic, Shelbourne, Derry City and Bohemians, with their sole away point coming in that aforementioned first match with Rovers.

Sligo, meanwhile, did sit in second place for a spell but come into this on the back of 3-0 defeats at both St Pat’s and Shamrock Rovers, leaving them in sixth on 12 points. However, they have a game in hand on all but one of the teams above them, which comes on Monday at home to Connacht rivals Galway United.

PosClubPWDLFAGDPts
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2167632415927
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51556487121
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8154651415-118
9153661523-815
1015168823-159

Prior to those losses, the Bit O’Red had recorded back-to-back wins at home to Drogheda United and away to Waterford. That 3-1 victory over Dundalk’s Louth neighbours in mid-March saw Sligo score at home for the first time since September, having gone five games there without one.

When these teams met at Oriel Park last month, Ellis Chapman and Max Mata both scored twice alongside a Fabrice Hartmann goal. It was the first time that Dundalk had conceded five at home in the top flight in nearly 34 years.

Generally, though, Dundalk have had plenty of joy in this fixture in recent times, and last season bagged three wins in the four meetings, losing only the first one at Oriel in April. At The Showgrounds, they came out on top 1-0 in May and 2-0 in October, the latter thanks to goals from Daryl Horgan and Sam Durrant.

Another win in the West for Dundalk this weekend would see them move to within five points of their opponents. 

Supporters are again reminded that this fixture now takes place on Friday, having been moved from Saturday due to Sligo’s rearranged game with Galway being set for next Monday.

Team News
Robbie Mahon, Robbie Benson and Zak Johnson are doubtful while Ciaran McGuckin is injured.

Quotes – Brian Gartland
“We performed really well at Dalymount Park on Monday night but the final action, an assist or a strike on goal, just wasn’t there.

“We’ve got a young profile of players in the forward positions and while it’s easy for us to say we need to have ‘more confidence’ – the reality is that confidence comes with your performances.

“If we bring the performances that we brought last Friday and on Monday then hopefully we can come out on the right side of it in Sligo.”

Match Officials
Referee: Paul Norton
Assistants: Chris Campbell and Shane O’Brien
Fourth Official: Marc Lynch