herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Players have to man up

Bohs and Pat's face nervous lead into the summer break

St Pats manager Liam Buckley with Bray Wanderers boss Harry Kenny
St Pats manager Liam Buckley with Bray Wanderers boss Harry Kenny
Bohs keeper Shane Supple and team-mate Derek Pender

With their craft beers, poetry nights and LGBT-friendly campaigns, Bohemians have earned themselves a reputation as the home for hipsters.

But as we approach the half-way point in the 2017 season, two games left before the mid-season break, the Phibsboro club need fighters, not hipsters, as they try to escape from the danger of what would be a first-ever relegation.

A run of seven defeats in nine games, the most recent a midweek home loss to Limerick, today leaves Bohs close to the edge. At a glance they are safely in mid-table, seventh in the league, but danger is clear and present as the side are only two points off the relegation zone.

Across the city in Inchicore they are even more uneasy, St Patrick's Athletic are closer to the drop zone, one of four teams on 14 points.

Regression

It's been a year of regression for the three clubs in the capital as they are all worse off now compared to 12 months ago: at the 15-game stage last season the Pat Fenlon-managed Shamrock Rovers were on 28 points (they're now on 22), Pat's were on 23 points (now 14) while Bohs are now on 16 points (they were on 17 a year ago).

None of those three clubs will come close to champions-elect Cork City and while Rovers can target a European place at least, for Bohs it's about being ready for a battle.

"It's not good enough and we know that. We can't see games out, we're not cute enough to scrape out a point," Bohs keeper Shane Supple told The Herald ahead of tonight's trip to play Galway United.

"And if it keeps going on like this we will be right there in that dogfight, we don't want that but it will be our own fault if that's the case, we have no one else to blame.

"The gaffer and Trevor (Croly) are doing everything they can behind the scenes, it's up to the players now to stand up and be counted.

"We have a small squad and losing someone to injury, like Derek Pender who pulled up in the warm-up in our last game or suspension, like Dylan Hayes missing tonight, hurts us.

"But we can have no excuses, we have been together long enough now and know enough about each other, we need players to be men about it and step up,

"We don't want to be hanging around down the bottom, there are times where we lost matches we should have won, we're not drawing games, we are losing them, and that's not good enough.

"We should have got at least a point at home to Limerick the other night but we ended up with nothing."

The problems for Bohs this season are basic: not scoring enough goals and conceding too many at the other end.

A return of 13 goals from 15 league games is the joint-worst in the division and, up until the midweek loss to Limerick, one player from Bray Wanderers (Gary McCabe) had scored as many goals as the entire Bohs side.

Also, home advantage is no advantage this season, four defeats in the last five games at Dalymount.

Great

"We haven't won enough games at home and that's not right, the fans at Dalymount have been great but we haven't given them enough to shout about," added Supple.

"For some reason we can't see a game out, we can't win a game, it's not good enough and the players know that. We have two games left before the mid-season break, and we have to try and go for six points."

While the remaining games before the break (Galway away and Drogheda at home) are, on paper, winnable for Bohs, St Pat's have two big tests, at home to champions Dundalk tonight and then away to Shamrock Rovers next week.

"We have to improve collectively," says boss Liam Buckley.

"We have lost quite a few points in various games due to goals that are not created by the opposition, now we just have to pick ourselves up and move on."

Pat's need wins to move away from the bottom-three but Dundak cannot afford any more slip-ups after only two wins in the last five.

"It's important that we pick up a win tonight. We beat St Patrick's Athletic earlier in the season at Oriel but it's going to be a difficult game up in Richmond," says Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers, who had three seasons as a player with the Saints.

"We have to go to Inchicore and get an important win.

"We have improved over the last few weeks, you can see that and we have to pick things up again tomorrow and get back to winning," he concluded.

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