Preview: Waterford United vs. St Patrick’s Athletic – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday’s League of Ireland Premier clash between Waterford United and St Patrick’s Athletic, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Aiming to continue their push for a surprise finish in the top three of the League of Ireland Premier, Waterford United will host a St Patrick’s Athletic side looking to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle when they clash at the Waterford Regional Sports Centre on Thursday.

The hosts hold a three-point lead over fourth-placed Shamrock Rovers, while the visitors sit nine points above the drop zone but have played at least twice more than those below them.

Match preview

© Reuters

Waterford have been the surprise package in the League of Ireland Premier this campaign, currently sitting third in the division in their first season back in the top flight after earning promotion through the playoffs last year.

Keith Long‘s side moved into third place after beating Dundalk FC 2-0 in their last match, building a three-point lead over Shamrock Rovers in fourth after they lost to Sligo Rovers.

Veteran striker Padraig Amond has been a vital part of Waterford’s march to the top of Irish football scoring a brilliant 11 goals in 22 appearances, just one behind the league’s top scorer Pat Hoban with 12.

While Long will be pleased with his men’s brilliant campaign thus far, he will want to see his side put together a run of victories after losing two of their last four in the League of Ireland Premier.

Their opponents St Patrick’s have seen a stark fall off this season compared to recent years, finishing second, fourth and third before finding themself in sixth place this time around.

Despite holding a seemingly comfortable nine-point lead over the drop zone, the Saints have played at least twice more than those below them and will need to continue their improved run of late if they are to steer away from the relegation zone.

Stephen Kenny, who took over in May, has been able to gradually steady the ship after initially failing to record a victory until his fourth match in charge, with his side now enjoying a run of just one defeat in their last seven across all competitions.

The visitors have struggled away from home this year, picking up just eight points with one win and five draws from their 11 fixtures on the road, and will have to be at their best if they are to take crucial points home from this one.

Waterford United League of Ireland Premier form:

St Patrick’s Athletic League of Ireland Premier form:

Team News

The hosts are set to be without no fewer than two players for this one after both Maleace Asamoah and Gbemi Arubi picked up injuries throughout June.

Elsewhere, Long is expected to name the same side that earned a 2-0 victory over Dundalk in their last game, courtesy of goals from Dean McMenamy and Connor Parsons.

St Patrick’s are unable to call upon the services of defender Ryan McLaughlin after suffering an injury in late June, leaving Axel Sjoberg likely to keep his place in the starting side.

The visitors have scored just 24 goals in 24 games this campaign and will need to see an improvement from an attacking lineup that is expected to see Ruairi Keating and Mason Melia start alongside Brandon Kavanagh, who leads the league in assists with seven.

Waterford United possible starting lineup:
Sargeant; Power, Horton, Radkowski, Leahy; McCormack, McDonald, McMenamy; Pattison, Amond, Parsons

St Patrick’s Athletic possible starting lineup:
Rogers; Sjoberg, Redmond, Grivosti, Breslin; Forrester, Lennon; Kavanagh, Melia, Mulraney; Keating

We say: Waterford United 2-1 St Patrick’s Athletic

St Patrick’s may have gone through a slight improvement in recent weeks but their away form has been shocking throughout the campaign, while Waterford have been extremely impressive in their first campaign back in the top flight, leading us to believe the hosts will win this one.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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