The outcome of the two remaining big north-west derbies between Finn Harps and Derry City could have a major impact on the fortunes of the two clubs with the Donegal outfit battling to avoid relegation while the Candystripes are pushing for a European spot.
Tomorrow they meet in a key Airtricity League Premier Division clash in Ballybofey, and they will then meet again on the final day of the league campaign at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Harps go into the game above UCD on goal difference at the foot of the table while City are fourth.
Derry thumped Harps 4-0 at the Brandywell when the sides last met in the league and come to Finn Park in a rich vein of form, having really impressed in last week’s 3-0 dismissal of Sligo Rovers.
Horgan believes that City are now a better side. “They have added to their team, they have a lot of quality. We are quite aware of what we are going into. If we are not right we will get steamrolled.”
In their last meeting in Ballybofey, Derry sneaked away with a dramatic 3-2 success after a robust encounter that saw emotions bubbling over at the end.
Looking ahead to the game, City assistant manager Kevin Deery said: “We just have to approach it as with every game and be professional. I felt it was a bit toxic up there the last time. We have got to manage our emotions and go up and play the way we have been playing. We have been playing excellently, and are unbeaten now in eight.”
Harps’ newest signing is set to make his debut in tomorrow evening's clash.
American Joshua Smith (27) was previously with SC Hessen Dreieich who played in Germany’s fourth tier.
A towering 6’ 4” centre-half, Horgan will be hoping that the new arrival can help bolster the Harps defence as the Donegal club battles to avoid relegation from the Airtricity League Premier Division.
“Josh has basically been out of the game for the past seven months through injury,” Horgan disclosed. “He is now injury free and is fully fit. He is in good nick, but is probably lacking match fitness. He will be available on Friday and he will play a part.”
From the player’s perspective, this is an opportunity to get back into the game and resurrect his career.
Harps must also plan without the continued absence of striker Nathan Boyle which is a big blow.
Mikey Place, who got the winner against Waterford last week, is expected to start and Horgan will be hoping that the pacey youngster can do the business.
This is the 70th competitive meeting between the two great rivals, and Harps fans won’t need to much reminding about the club’s dreadful record against their neighbours.
In fact, Harps have won only seven competitive games against their great rivals.
And only three of those were in the league, the first one being back in 1999.
However, Horgan has presided over two Harps wins in the league, a 2-1 success in Ballybofey in 2016 and a 2-0 win when Derry were playing their ‘home’ games in Buncrana in 2017 while the Brandywell was being redeveloped.
Harps would grab the opportunity to take a point but history suggests that City will prevail.
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