Motherwell host SSE Airtricity League Premier Division side Sligo Rovers at Fir Park on Saturday afternoon.
Stephen Craigan’s side have beaten both East Stirlingshire and Dundee on their way to this stage as part of an impressive start to their domestic campaign.
The youngsters have also won both Reserve Cup matches and collected seven points from their first four league matches, including wins over both Hearts and Hibs.
They now face Sligo Rovers on Saturday, looking to create history by being the first Colts team to book a spot in the Irn-Bru Cup quarter-finals.
The ‘Baraclough Derby’
When the draw was first made, fans of both clubs took to social media to jokingly dub the tie – ‘the Baraclough Derby’.
Bara was in charge of the Bit ‘o Red between 2012 and 2014, culminating in one of the most successful periods in the history of the club. He won the Premier Division in his first season, the FAI Cup in his second and the Setanta Sports Cup in his last, before switching the Fir Park in the winter of 2014.
Although his time in Scotland was brief, he succeeded in keeping the club in the Premiership, famously beating Rangers home and away in the play-off final. He also brought Marvin Johnson and Louis Moult to ‘Well, both of whom combined netted the club over £1m in transfer fees.
A season almost complete
The League of Ireland operates a summer calendar, meaning the 2018 campaign is almost at an end. Indeed, Gerard Lyttle’s side have just three games left, but secured their top-league status following last weekend’s 2-1 win over bottom side Bray Wanderers – only their third home win of the season.
Currently sitting in eighth, they could still catch the three teams ahead of them when they wrap up the campaign with matches against champions Dundalk, Bohemians and third-placed Shamrock Rovers.
A familiar face or two
A handful of those likely to feature for Sligo on Saturday have plied their trade in the Scottish leagues.
The most notable is midfielder Rhys McCabe, who started his career at Rangers before leaving for Sheffield Wednesday back in 2012.
After three years at Hillsbrough, he was back north with Dunfermline before signing on at the Showgrounds in June 2017.
Others who have been in Scotland include Irvine-born Lewis Morrison (Kilmarnock & St Mirren), Lee Lynch (Hamilton Accies) and Caolan McAleer (East Fife, Airdrie & Morton)
Life on the road
Whilst Sligo’s form at home has been a disappointment for their fans, results on the road have been very impressive.
They have won at the home of almost every top-league team this campaign, with the exception of runaway leaders Dundalk, European contenders Shamrock Rovers and Waterford.
Rovers have collected 38 points so far this term, 26 of them on their travels. Only the teams that will finish first and second have amassed more away points, so Saturday’s trip to Fir Park won’t faze this Sligo squad.
We meet again…
Although this is the first time Motherwell and Sligo have locked horns in a competitive fixture, the teams faced each other in friendly action back in the summer of 2015.
Dom Thomas had put the Fir Parkers ahead after just eight minutes, however the home side were soon level through Keith Ward.
It stayed that way until virtually the last kick of the ball when Wes Fletcher slotted home what was his second goal of that particular pre-season campaign.