UCD -v- BohemiansThu, Sep 27 2012
UCD will look to make it four straight league victories and continue their fine form when they welcome Bohemians to the Belfield Bowl on Friday evening. The Students have picked up fifteen points from the last eighteen available, a string of results which has propelled them up the table and brought them within touching distance of the sides ahead of them.
Last week’s victory in Derry emphasised how far Martin Russell’s side have come in the last month and it’s incredible to think that the last time these two clubs did battle, UCD were rooted to the foot of the standings and staring down the barrel of a relegation play-off. Fast-forward two months and the Students are still in with a chance of securing an unlikely European spot.
Their performances have been made even more impressive considering the injury problems which have plagued the Belfield club this season as well as the departure of influential midfielder Paul Corry to Sheffield Wednesday.
Manager Martin Russell knows however that they need to stay focused until the final game of the campaign.
“We are very pleased with our run of late, with five wins from our previous six league games, but we realise that we have to continue the push right to the end of the season and try to finish as high up the table as we can.” He told ucdsoccer.com
The return of David McMillan to the club has been a major factor in their strong finish to the season as the striker has netted three games on the bounce now. Graham Rusk, the club’s top goal-scorer remains side-lined however as he continues to recover from a lengthy shin complaint. Meanwhile Tyrone McNelis and Tomas Boyle are doubts for the game.
Victory for the college on Friday would move them within two points of Bohs while the Students have a game in hand and Russell knows his side are capable of a strong run-in.
“After Friday we play St. Patrick’s on Monday night and we have to play all the teams above us. We will be underdogs in each match and even in the run in but it’s great to have an almost fully fit squad to pick from after our injury problems earlier in the season.”
Bohemians make the short journey across the capital on Friday evening intent on continuing their excellent recent record against UCD as well as finishing their campaign strongly.
The Gypsies have won seven of their last eight clashes with the Students and currently lie sixth in the table but given the poor form of some sides ahead of them, Aaron Callaghan’s young side know that a string of good results to end the season will improve their final position considerably.
However, former college boss Callaghan knows the size of the task awaiting his players on Friday; “They have some very talented young players and they’re a well organised unit. When they hit form they can beat anyone. Their levels of fitness are very high. They train like full-time professionals. They have their facilities on-site and they can fit their training in around their schooling, which is an ideal model for any club.”
Bohemians beat UCD by a single goal in both of their league encounters this season, 2-1 at Belfield in April and 1-0 at Dalymount Park in July but apart from a 1-0 victory in Tallaght a couple of weeks ago, the Gypsies have struggled of late including a disappointing cup defeat to Dundalk.
Ex-student Keith Ward is suspended after picking up a red card last time out against Cork but Derek Pender, Dinny Corcoran and Ryan McEvoy should all return to the match day squad. David McMillan has been banging in the goals for UCD, as has his brother Evan but the centre back is a major injury worry for Callaghan ahead of Friday’s game.
The Bohs manager believes some of his younger players may be affected by the demands of a full season at the top level but says the onus is on them to maintain fitness throughout the gruelling schedule.
“If you want to play in a professional manner in this league you have to look after yourself 24/7. That’s what we’ve been getting across to the players this year: they have got to take responsibility for their own fitness levels, their own nutrition, and their own psychological preparation.” He told the club’s official website.
Referee: Sean Grant
There have been over 2.5 goals scored in UCD's last 6 games in the Airtricity League.
UCD have been winning at both half time and full time in 5 of their last 6 matches in Airtricity League.
Bohemians have won 7 of their last 8 matches against UCD in all competitions.
UCD 15/8; Draw 11/5; Bohemians 7/5
UCD 3-2 Bohemians
UCD Injury News: John Kelly (groin), Graham Rusk, Tomas Boyle, Tyrone McNeils (all doubts)
UCD Suspension News: None.
Bohemians Injury News: Garreth O’Connor, Evan McMillan (doubt).
Bohemians Suspension News: Keith Ward, Keith Buckley.