ST. PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
St. Patrick’s Athletic will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to three league matches when welcome Bohemians to the Stadium of Light in Inchicore on Friday (kick-off 7.45pm).
Pats currently lie sixth in the table, five points ahead of seventh-placed Bohemians and Liam Buckley’s men will seek to extend that advantage at Richmond Park, where they have lost just once in the league so far this season.
"We have done really well at home in Inchicore in the last few weeks so we will be aiming to continue that run of form," Buckley told the club's official website.
That form has seen Pat’s record three consecutive league wins at Richmond Park over Bray Wanderers, Limerick and Waterford in the last few weeks.
The Saints were boosted by the return from injury of their 2013 League of Ireland player of the year, Killian Brennan, who made his first appearance of the season in the battling 0-0 draw away to Sligo Rovers last week.
“It was a bang average match,” said Buckley of the stalemate in Sligo. “It’s a point, we’ve moved on.”
Buckley is under no illusions about the challenge his men will face against Pat’s North Dublin rivals.
"Friday will be a difficult game against a strong Bohemians side.
"It's a derby so we know there'll be big crowds at the game from both sides but we have to try and approach it as normal and we've gone through the same routine as normal this week ahead of the game.
“They played really well against Cork last week. I’ve no doubt that they’ll come up with a confident swagger from there.
“We plan to try and win every game. This is a slightly different occasion but one we’re looking to win.”
Buckley is content with his side’s progress as they seek to meet his target of a top four finish. “We’ve kept six clean sheets. We’ve kept a steady back four. I’m happy where we are defensively. Offensively, we need to try and get a better number on the amount of chances we’re creating.”
Pat’s will be hoping to add to their haul of thirteen home league goals so this season against Bohs. “They’re always very competitive. We just need to make sure from a performance point of view that it’s good – get focused on our three points and not look any further than that.”
After the high of a 2-1 away victory against Shamrock Rovers in their last Dublin derby in Tallaght two weeks, Bohemians have been rocked back on their heels with successive losses to Derry City and to Cork City in the televised fixture last Friday.
By common consensus, Keith Long’s red and black army are playing pretty football, but good results have regularly eluded them. Bohs dominated for lengthy periods against champions Cork City but failed to score and ended up the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline.
"The football we've been playing has at times been exciting and pleasing to watch," Long told the club's website.
"We were good enough on the night (against Cork City) to get something out of that game. We created a lot in the first half and had most of the possession in the second.”
A couple of cheap goals (products of an intended cross by Colm Horgan and a quick throw-in at halfway by Kieran Sadlier) undid Bohs good work at Dalymount last week. "But we have to cut out those basic errors if we are to climb up the table. You need to keep clean sheets to give yourself the best chance of getting a result.
"It is a results business and it's results that people will remember.
"You could say we were unlucky on occasion but that's down to us not being ruthless enough in attack and at the back.
"The players fully understand that. There's resolution in this team as to how we want to play.
"We are improving and evolving. I'm confident that we will turn performances into results.
"But we need to believe in ourselves more, be more clinical in front of goal and stronger at the back to give ourselves a chance." Bohs have scored just four goals away from home all season, whilst conceding twelve.
A brief respite in a helter-skelter season has given Bohs some additional preparation time for the St. Pat’s test. Long said: "We've had a week to prepare for this game and that will help bodies to recover. I expect our players to be fresher than they have been.”
Long added: "St Pat's are a different proposition for teams than they were last season.
"They've gone up to Derry and down to Cork and were very unlucky in both, losing by the odd goal. So, they're serious opponents for any team.
"They've already beaten us 1-0 this season in another game where we failed to take our chances.
"So it's the same message again - we have to be ruthless in both boxes.
"But Richmond Park is usually a good surface to play on and it's somewhere we tend to a bring a vocal travelling support. We're really looking forward to it."
Referee: Tomas Connolly.
A first half strike from top-scorer Dean Clarke gave Pats all three points on the last occasion the sides met in the Premier Division. That was at Dalymount Park seven weeks ago.
The most recent encounter between the clubs at Richmond Park in June 2017 ended in a 3-1 away victory for Bohs. Pat’s led 1-0 at the interval after Alex O’Hanlon gave the home side the lead but second-half strikes by Oscar Brennan, Dinny Corcoran and Georgie Poynton gave Bohs all three points.
In all, the sides have met 43 times at Richmond Park. Bohemians have won 17 of those matches to 14 wins for St. Pat’s. There have been 12 draws. Pat’s haven’t beaten Bohs at home in the league since March 2016.
Last five league matches: St. Patrick’s Athletic LWLWD; Bohemians LDWLL.
St. Patrick’s Athletic 4/5; Bohemians 3/1; Draw 23/10.
St. Patrick’s Athletic 1-1 Bohemians
St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Danny Grant (hamstring), Karl Moore (knee), Derek Pender (calf), Ryan Swan (cruciate), Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal).