Even though they are unbeaten in their last three games, Finn Harps face a tough task to extend that run against the form team in the Division when they travel to the RSC to take on Waterford United on Friday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
Since losing to Longford Town on May 11th last, Waterford have won all eight games since then – seven in the league and one in the FAI Cup. Two of their last three games have seen them beat the top two of Limerick and Longford and they go into Friday’s game just four points off the top of the table.
Harps go into the game on the back of a three game unbeaten run with their only defeats in the last six games coming at the hands of the top two.
Last weekend, Harps looked like they had pulled off the perfect comeback in coming from 2-0 down against Wexford Youths at Finn Park, only for the visitors to snatch a last gasp equaliser with the last kick of the game to share the spoils in a highly entertaining 3-3 draw.
“It felt like a defeat, given that we had done so well to get back into the game,” said Harps boss Peter Hutton of the game.
“We gave them a two goal start and we worked extremely hard to get back into the game and take a 3-2 lead. So to throw it away with literally the last kick of the game is devastating. It’s very hard on the boys. For all their effort and endeavour they only get a point rather than the three.
“It would have been a massive three points,” said Hutton. It shows the exceptional resilience and character of the boys to get themselves back into he game and into a leading position. But I suppose you have to say, fair play to Wexford too. They just kept plugging away and unfortunately we didn’t clear our lines with seconds to go. It was probably a bit of inexperience and naivety as well. We tried to stay on the ball when we shouldn’t have, we should have just put it out and over the stand. Even the equaliser, it was so fortuitous. The boy just hits a shot and it comes off James Doherty’s heel and just loops up over Ciaran (Gallagher).”
Although Harps haven’t the best of records at the RSC against Waterford, their last two visits there have seen them unbeaten. In September last year, Harps left with a share of the spoils after a scoreless draw. Earlier this season, on the last day of March, a Paul Simon Tracey strike coupled with a Waterford own goal was enough to give Harps a 2-0 victory – their first in Waterford since 2001.
“We’ll look forward to it. We won there the last time, it was the time Ciaran Gallagher got the bad injury,” Hutton said of the trip to the south-east.
“It’s a good venue and a good pitch. Waterford are on a great run at the moment. They are one of the form teams, themselves and Limerick. They are up there and for a lot of people they were possible candidates for promotion this year. You can see now why, they are getting bodies back that they didn’t have for much of the season.
“But we fear no-one. I think there is a very fine line in regards to the rest of the teams in the league. If we acquit ourselves like we did for the second half and the last 15 minutes of the first half (against Wexford), then I think we’ll give them a right good game.”
Suspended: Thomas McBride (4th of 7 games)
Doubtful: Tommy Bonner.
Injured: Michael Funston (ankle), Stephen O’Donnell (cruciate), Hugh Carlin (cruciate), Blain Curtis (cruciate).
Form Guide (last six league games)
Finn Harps: W-L-L-W-D-D (8 pts)
Waterford United: W-W-W-W-W-W (18 pts)
Last six away games against Waterford United
28/07/2009 - Waterford United 4-0 Finn Harps (First Division)
23/04/2010 - Waterford United 2-0 Finn Harps (First Division)
09/10/2010 - Waterford United 3-1 Finn Harps (First Division)
25/03/2011 - Waterford United 1-0 Finn Harps (First Division)
09/09/2011 - Waterford United 0-0 Finn Harps (First Division)
31/03/2012 - Waterford United 0-2 Finn Harps (First Division)
Finn Harps Goalscorers 2012
Kevin McHugh – 7 (1 in League Cup)
Adam Clarke – 4
Thomas McBride – 3
Paul McVeigh - 2
Blain Curtis – 2
Ciaran Coll – 2
Paul Simon Tracey – 2
Thomas McMonagle – 2
Thomas Bonner – 1
Matt Harkin – 1
Aaron O’Hagan – 1
Shaun McGowan – 1
Finn Harps Results 2012 (Harps goalscorers in brackets)
21/07/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 3-3 Wexford Youths (McMonagle, McHugh, McGowan)
13/07/2012 – (FD) Athlone Town 1-1 Finn Harps (O’Hagan)
07/07/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 3-2 Mervue United (McHugh, McVeigh 2)
29/06/2012 – (FD) Limerick 3-0 Finn Harps
22/06/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 1-3 Longford Town (Harkin)
30/05/2012 – (FD) Salthill Devon 1-5 Finn Harps (Bonner, McBride 2, Coll 2)
23/05/2012 – (FC) Derry City 4-0 Finn Harps
18/05/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 0-1 Waterford United
11/05/2012 – (FD) Wexford Youths 3-0 Finn Harps
05/05/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 1-2 Athlone Town (McHugh)
27/04/2012 – (FD) Mervue United 3-0 Finn Harps
21/04/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 1-3 Limerick (Clarke)
14/04/2012 – (FD) Longford Town 1-3 Finn Harps (Tracey, McBride, Curtis)
09/04/2012 – (LC) Derry City 4-0 Finn Harps
06/04/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 3-0 Salthill Devon (Clarke, McHugh, Curtis)
31/03/2012 – (FD) Waterford United 0-2 Finn Harps (Tracey, Waterford o.g.)
26/03/2012 – (LC) Finn Harps 2-0 Mayo League (Mayo o.g., McHugh)
24/03/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 0-1 Wexford Youths
16/03/2012 – (FD) Athlone Town 2-0 Finn Harps
10/03/2012 – (FD) Finn Harps 4-3 Mervue United (Clarke, McHugh 2, McMonagle)
02/03/2012 – (FD) Limerick 2-1 Finn Harps (Clarke)
FD = First Division; LC = League Cup; FC = FAI Cup