alway United make a welcome return to SSE Airtricity League premier division action at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow evening when hosting Wexford Youths, kick off 7.45pm.
The Tribesmen have not played a competitive fixture at home since June 3 so manager Tommy Dunne is adamant his team can perform on the "immaculate" surface at the Dyke Road venue.
“It is a big game for us,” Dunne admits. “I suppose every game between now and the end of the season will be big for us. We are at home, we haven't been at home for a while, so it is important for us to make sure we start well, that we are hungry to go out to perform. The pitch is immaculate here, so if you can't play or look to play here, then you have got a problem.
“We played reasonably okay in certain areas of the pitch against Finn Harps, but we didn't get over the line. We didn't have that cutting edge up front. We had a lot of the ball, but we didn't do a huge amount of damage with it. We have been working on that side of things, we have to try to get that cutting edge in front of goal. Otherwise we aren't doing too bad. Of course we have one or two players who we will be looking at over the next couple of weeks.
“Sometimes it can be a bit fractured at this stage of the season and it can be a bit of a hindrance. Players are coming and going, so it unsettles the group. Once it settles down, then you are on the move again.”
Former Tranmere Rovers goalkeeper Sam Ramsbottom has signed for United following an impressive trial and Dunne hopes to bolster the squad further. “We lost one or two. John Sullivan was a disappointing loss. Due to his work commitments in Dublin, he had to go back. He tried it and it didn't work out, which was disappointing. Overall we have one or two who have found it difficult to be able to get themselves physically right over the course of the season.
“If you aren't fit by July, you have a problem, so we are trying to get them back fit and right. You will pick up niggles over the course of the season. For us we need to be at it. Wexford is what we are concentrating on, we need to be at it on Friday.
Dunne says United now need to push on until the end of the season.
"That is why we have to try to bring in a couple of signings, why we need to make sure we are fresh and hungry. We are now not so much at a crossroads, but at a critical time of the season. You can push on to chase the guys in front, or you could get dragged back.
"Bray, with a few signings are getting stronger. Wexford Youths can play, Finn Harps are the same - strong groups they have. We need to make sure we have a strong squad because I've no doubt Longford will go on a run to get back into the mix. It is important that in every game if we get an opportunity to win, we take it.”
Significant progress has been made by the club during the past 18 months in the top flight, but Dunne wants United to keep developing.
“From where we were at the start to where we are now there is no comparison. We are competing in the top division. In every game we are there or thereabouts. I do think the level of performance has gone up, but we are looking to push on as a group. If you don't look to push on as a group, then you stand still and you'll end up going backwards.
“I think at the start of the second phase of games, for whatever reason, we lost a bit of discipline. We had sending offs against St Patrick's and Sligo Rovers, we lost momentum in the games. We were well in those games, we were there or thereabouts in the matches, so that to us was a bit of an unsettled time. Then we played Derry at home, they went down to 10 men. We had chances, we just didn't take them. It was just one of those nights, we had chances. For us we just have to look forward. Wexford for us is a big game coming up.
“We are capable of getting results, but I would like to get more settled. We need to get a settled group, a settled team to work on different aspects of the game. When you are chopping and changing, especially in defensive areas, it can be tough. A few things will have to happen in the next few weeks regarding bodies coming in.”