Preview: Rovers head for Oriel Park

Sligo Rovers begin the second round of fixtures in the SSE Airtricity League on Friday night as they face Dundalk in Oriel Park.

The game is live on RTÉ2, RTÉ Player and WATCHLOI.

After making the best since to a league season since 2013, accumulating 16 points from nine games, Rovers begin the second quarter of the campaign.

The Bit O’ Red have had four wins, four 1-1 draws and a single defeat so far.

Rovers had two of those draws last weekend. The game with St Patrick’s Athletic ended in disappointment after the concession of a 95th minute equaliser.

However, it leaves the Bit O’ Red in third place going into this encounter.

The teams have played some eventful games in recent times. The opening weekend of the season saw Liam Buckley’s side denied a winner when Mark Byrne’s goal was ruled out late on.

Romeo Parkes had brought the Bit O’ Red level after a Patrick McEleney opener. Last year Rovers completed a double over Dundalk in the league, including the 2-0 win needed to secure the Bit O’ Red’s place in the Europa League Conference first round draw next month.

They were bright spots in a difficult opposition for Rovers against a team which have dominated in the league for much of the last decade.

The Lilywhites are unbeaten in their last five games, so ahead of this Friday’s live game on RTÉ2, it is set to be a fascinating encounter.

In team news, Danny Kane misses out while Mark Byrne will have a late fitness test.

Liam Buckley said: “It was a disappointing end to the game on Monday obviously. As we reflect on it, the performance over the course of the 90 minutes was decent. We have to keep trying to get it better because it still isn’t where we feel it can be.

“I do think we can win more games with the capabilities within our group. We came close last Monday and in the end we came away with a draw. It was a decent display against a team at the top of the table.

“The first series is done, we’ve had a period of transition settling in new players, young players and trying to improve on our overall team performance with that in mind. 

“There is a lot of football to come with just a quarter of the season played and the start we’ve made has given us a chance to kick on over the rest of the year.

“I do think Dundalk will be an even more difficult proposition compared to our first meeting. Like us, they had bedding in period for a lot of new players early on in the season.

“They’ve also gone through a managerial change and what comes with it They will be a lot stronger, they’re picking up wins and we have to be ready for them. 

“That said, it’s a game we’re looking forward to. We’re determined to build on the work we’ve put in so far this year and it’s another chance for us to do so and show what we can do.

“The games between the teams are always close and it’s going to be the same on Friday I feel.”