Bohemians will be hoping to move up the table as they welcome Sligo Rovers, the side nearest to them in the current standings, to Dalymount Park on Friday night (kick off 7.45pm).
Following an encouraging start to the 2018 campaign, beginning with a Dublin Derby win over Dalymount Park against Shamrock Rovers, Bohs sit second last in the early season table after a run of three successive defeats. The latest loss came on Monday night at the RSC against high-flying Waterford.
Team Boss Keith Long was in defiant mood when he spoke to bohemianfc.com. “Results and performance need to be addressed and I believe that we have the players and character to change our fortunes. We have ended up on the wrong side of results in games where we have been very much in contention and should have taken something from.”
Long bemoaned the lack of a consistent goalscoring threat. “We have had opportunities to score in every game, most notably missed penalties at home to Derry and St Pat’s. To give ourselves any chance, we must try and get the opening goal.”
The manager has also been exasperated by failings at the other end of the pitch. “But the concession of cheap goals has been our achilles heel. Despite lots of our build-up play looking promising at times, we have failed to work the opposition goalkeepers enough.”
Speaking in advance of the visit of Sligo, the Dalymount Park supremo is upbeat. “We are all frustrated that we have not been able to build on the Rovers win on the opening night of the season. But I firmly believe we are not a million miles off and we are only one good result and performance away from kick-starting our season.”
Long feels that confidence levels are still high amongst his team and that his charges will welcome the fans’ expectation of a good result against Sligo.
He added: “There is pressure on us to deliver at home. We cannot shy away from that – that pressure to win should act as a spur for our players.
“We need to show our mettle now and show courage to get our season back on track. It won’t be easy as Sligo are a good side who try to play an expansive game. But we are at home and I expect to see a reaction from our players.”
After two successive home defeats, Sligo Rovers picked-up a second win of the season when a first half Caolan McAleer brace earned the Bit O’ Red a 2-1 win at the Carlisle Grounds on Monday.
If required, Sligo manager Gerard Lyttle will be able to call on Patrick McLean and Regan Donelon, who are both fit again for the Bohs match after hamstring injuries. Also, in selection contention will be on-loan Chelsea netminder Mitchell Beeney, who has recovered from illness.
Speaking to sligoroversfc.com in advance of the trip to Dublin’s northside, Lyttle said: "We have a bigger squad for this game. There's competition in all the positions which is what we want.”
Lyttle was pleased, if not 100% satisfied, with his side’s performance against Bray. "It was important to pick up three points on Monday, but it didn't sway us either way. We played well for a decent part of the game, yet we conceded a poor goal. There are a couple of things we've worked on with that. But most importantly we got the three points.”
Two-goal McAleer earned praise for his tour de force against the Seagulls. "Caolan was due a goal or two and we feel we have the likes of him, Ally Roy, Adam Morgan and Rhys McCabe who will score us goals. We are creating shooting opportunities and Caolan took two goals very well on Monday.
Sligo have won just two of their two of their opening five league fixtures, yet Lyttle is unmoved. "Someone said to me this is the best start the club has made since 2013. It makes me angry to be honest because we could and should have had more points from some of the games.
"You know Bohemians are going to work extremely hard. They are always tight games and they have some really good players. We know it'll be difficult. But we go there looking for back-to-back wins. That's our target."
Referee: Raymond Matthews.
A goal in either half from Keith Ward and Dinny Corcoran gave Bohs all three points on the last occasion the sides met in the Premier Division at Dalymount Park, back in June.
Sligo Rovers enjoyed 1-0 and 2-0 wins in the two 2017 encounters at the Showgrounds.
Bohemians have conceded the first goal in each of their five league matches so far this season. They recovered in their opening game to defeat Rovers 3-1 and pegged Limerick back on Matchday 2 but have been unable to recover deficits since then.
Bohemians 6/5; Sligo Rovers 2/1; Draw 23/10.
Bohemians 1-1 Sligo Rovers
Injured: Ryan Swan (cruciate), Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal).
Doubtful: Kevin Devaney (achilles).
Injured: John Mahon.
Read the thoughts of #Bohs manager Keith Long ahead of tomorrow's game against Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park: https://t.co/SFF5Qd7pm3— Bohemian FC (@bfcdublin) March 15, 2018
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