Finn Harps will look to pick up their first win in eight games when they take on Wexford Youths in Finn Park tonight (kick-off, 7.45pm)
Harps’ last victory came against their forthcoming opponents in the FAI Cup back in May. Peter Hutton’s side picked up a 2-1 win that night, and they would dearly love to replicate that result on Friday night.
The Ballybofey side suffered a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Mervue United last Friday, with Hutton claiming he was ‘embarrassed’ by the demoralising defeat.
“It was very disappointing,” said assistant manager, Sean McGowan. “We never imposed ourselves on the game, and we gave away some very poor goals. Too many players were way off the level that is expected of them.
“Workrate is the starting point for any Finn Harps team, and we’ll be wanting to see a massive improvement in that department against Wexford,” said McGowan.
Harps haven’t tasted victory since the 17th of May, when they defeated Mervue United by one goal to nil. Since then, it has been one disappointing result after another, with the only sign of an improvement coming two weeks ago in the scoreless draw with league leaders, Longford Town.
However, last week’s result is another set-back in an underwhelming season.
“Our confidence is down, but the players have to move on. If you take Donegal in the Gaelic last weekend for example, sometimes you just can’t legislate for a poor performance. We’re in the same position. Now, the players need to step up.”
“We’re not asking for a performance, we’re demanding it. ”
Harps have played Wexford three times already this season, winning in the FAI Cup, but they have only picked up one point from a possible six against the Ferrycarrig Park outfit in the league. McGowan admits that the two sides know each other well.
“We’ve played them three times this year, so we know a good bit about them.They’re a big physical side, hard-working, and they won’t give us anything easy.
Wexford have been going through their own winless spell, and have suffered four defeats on the trot. Shane Keegan’s team sit in fifth position, and like Harps, they need a win to keep their promotion ambitions alive.
Harps play-off hopes took a significant hit with last week’s defeat, and they now find themselves seven points off Waterford United, the current occupants of third place. However, McGowan insists that there is still plenty to play for in the league, and that the team still believe they can reach one of the coveted play-off spots.
“We have to believe that we can make the play-offs. That is our focus within the club, and we won’t stop until it is mathematically impossible to reach it.
“This is a tight league, and anyone can beat anyone. It might just take one result to reignite our season. If you look at Longford, they looked out of sight, but then they drew with us and lost to Cobh, and now Athlone are just one point behind them.”
Hutton bemoaned a lack of creativity after the Mervue game, but McGowan says that the team have to earn the right to have the ball.
“It doesn’t just happen. You need to earn the right to play. You need to be prepared to do what it takes to win the ball first. We’ve been losing out on the 50/50s recently, and that’s not good enough. The boys have to take responsibility individually, as well as collectively.
The Harps manager also stated in the aftermath of Friday’s defeat, that he possibly got the team selection wrong, and it is expected that he will reshuffle the team for the Wexford game.
“Michael Funston, Thomas McMonagle, and Sean McCarron are all returning from injury and look like they might be in contention. But we’ll have to see how they are after Wednesday’s training session,’ said McGowan.
This is a big game for Finn Harps, and McGowan is adamant that his team will get the result if they have the right mixture of workrate, application and confidence.
“We have to be positive. There’s no point in looking back, we just have to move forward and pick up results, and that starts with Wexford on Friday night.”