Derry have desire to fight back, insists boss Shiels
Derry City have the opportunity to get their flailing season back on track when they get a third chance to get one over Bray Wanderers this season. Kenny Shiels' men have twice lost 3-2 to the Seagulls this year, with defender Tim Clancy getting the winner on both occasions.
With only four points separating the two teams in fourth and fifth place respectively, tonight's game is significant as the Candystripes hope to regain third place from Shamrock Rovers.
Since losing at Dundalk in the FAI Cup last month, Derry have produced two forgettable league performances, 4-0 down at half-time against the league champions at Maginn before last week's disappointing game in Galway, which the Candystripes lost 2-1.
As a result, Derry have seen an eight-point lead over Rovers disappear and they now trail the Dubliners by one point with just six league games left to play.
Despite Bray's off-field problems, with allegations of match fixing hanging over them, they have significant incentive to inflict a third defeat on Derry as they can close the gap on fourth place to just one point.
On the other side of that coin, Derry can all but secure a fourth-place finish with victory, and Shiels dismissed any claims that his players have lost the fight to finish the season competitively.
"They have got the desire," he said. "But the sharpness has got to be there and the sharpness is there this week.
"This will be the catalyst for us to hopefully hit a good run now. We won five out of six before the Dundalk games so we just have to pick it up and keep battling away.
"We have been a lot livelier and sharper than last week."
Bray can still make third if they gain ground on both Derry and Rovers, but with games running out fast it means victory at Maginn tonight is imperative.
"They are fighting us for fourth," Shiels added. "We have to win. We haven't given up on third but at this moment we're fighting for fourth.
Ourselves and Bray are fourth and fifth in the league and both of us have aspirations to get into the top three."
Darren Cole (illness), Nathan Boyle (jaw) and Dean Jarvis (thigh) could miss out, but Aaron McEneff returns from suspension.
Airtricity Premier Division:
Maginn Park, Tonight, 7.45pm