Avoiding relegation is Galway United and Sligo Rovers' current objective, ensuring tomorrow evening's SSE Airtricity League premier division clash at Eamonn Deacy Park (7.45pm ) carries huge importance for both clubs.
Having registered three wins and two draws from their last five league matches, Sligo have hit form at the right time of the season. United's record since July is worrying, with only one victory posted.
Manager Tommy Dunne, however, remains adamant his young side can recover following another disappointing 2-0 loss to Shamrock Rovers.
Poor lapses in defensive concentration proved costly for United, who were ruthlessly punished by the Hoops.
“Critical moments in the game cost us,” Dunne says. “I think overall we were well enough in the match, especially in the first half. To concede just before half time I think knocked the stuffing out of us.
“The way things are at the moment everyone needs to be scrapping. After a tough weekend the previous weekend, we didn’t have enough at the pitch of the game. We were just a bit off the pace.”
Dunne believes United's "inexperience" is ultimately why they again left the capital without reward.
“After the break we picked up a lot of play, but we just didn’t have that bit of quality needed to trouble Rovers enough. In the second half we had a great chance. Gary Shanahan pulled a great ball back, somebody has to be side footing that home, but we didn’t. Then an individual error cost us the second goal.
“We had spoken at half time about making sure we stayed in the game to fight right to the end. When you go two nil down it is a tough ask. A little bit of inexperience at tough times in certain areas of the pitch. That inexperience can cost you in these matches.
“The main areas of the game were conceding the first goal just before half time and the soft one we gave away. You aren’t going to win games when you do that.”
In the closing stages Shamrock Rovers introduced former Republic of Ireland internationals Stephen McPhail and Damien Duff.
“When you come to Shamrock Rovers or to any of the top teams in the country that is going to happen,” Dunne says. “ We are still down bodies. The first goal was critical. It should have been cleared down the pitch, we would have gone in at nil all. There is a completely different dynamic to the game if you have to go chasing the game.”
Ravaged by injuries and suspensions recently, United welcome back Marc Ludden following a ban, while Ryan Connolly and Stephen Walsh may also be available for the upcoming crunch ties with Sligo and Limerick FC.
“We need to regroup and recover for the next two weeks," Dunne says. "We have two absolutely huge games for us. We have to get confidence and belief into the group again. That is what we need to do.”
Last Saturday Sligo produced a hearty display to glean a crucial 3-2 win over Bray Wanderers which ensured they climbed to ninth place in the table. It is a particularly interesting relegation battle with Limerick, Galway, Drogheda United, Sligo, Longford Town, Derry City, and Bray still heavily involved. If United are to maintain top flight status for the 2016 domestic campaign positive results must be chalked up against Sligo and Limerick.