THIS is a superb chance for Colin Healy's Cork City men to make it 10 games unbeaten in the Midlands against bottom side Athlone.
City are full of confidence after their comfortable 3-0 victory on Monday over Munster rivals Treaty United. Athlone suffered another defeat, this time to Waterford, and haven't won all season.
City dominated Treaty and if they can repeat that form, I have no doubt that they will pick up three points again.
Athlone are struggling but have had a few good performances and were unlucky not to snatch at least a point against Galway earlier this season. Martin Russell’s men won’t be a pushover either and Healy knows they can’t underestimate them.
The last time the sides met back in March City enjoyed a 4-1 success after dominating for 90 minutes at Turner's Cross in front of a crowd of nearly 3,000, which reflects the strong support for the Rebel Army when they're on a roll. It's top versus bottom on Friday but I expect it to be a closer contest.
City were hugely impressive on Bank Holiday Monday and it was refreshing to see a few changes to Healy's starting XI, with all doing well. Cian Bargarry, Matt Healy and Ruairi Keating all got on the scoresheet while Aaron Bolger gave another Man of the Match display in front of another superb crowd at the Cross.
It’s hard to call what line-up Healy will go with but regardless they should have too much for the hosts. With so many lads returning from injury, Healy is spoilt for choice and this is an opportunity to give game time to those on the fringes.
There are bigger fixtures ahead. City are free next weekend but then host Wexford at home on May 20 and Galway away on May 27. The last time City and Wexford met, City were lucky to come away with a 1-0 win and the game against Galway will be a top-of-the-table clash, which only makes it more important not to slip up in Athlone.
Elsewhere, Cobh host Galway.
It's a game that Darren Murphy’s side could badly do with getting a result in, or the play-offs prospects will fade away.
The last time the sides met, Galway secured a 1-0 win but at home in St Colman’s Park, Murphy will hope to at least record a draw, which would of course also benefit City.
Credit to Cobh this season they have attracted great crowds which adds to the atmosphere, and with Cork City playing away, let’s hope the people of Cork can get down to Cobh to support Murphy’s side.