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Friday 22 September 2017

Saints and Bohs look for a lift after losses

Liam Buckley. Photo: Sportsfile
Liam Buckley. Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Buckley is remaining upbeat despite the struggles at the bottom of the table of his St Pat's Ath side, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

The Saints take on Derry City in Richmond Park tonight, where even a win would not be enough to take them out of the relegation zone, and wins have been hard to come by of late.

But boss Buckley was enthused by his side's endeavours in last week's narrow defeat away to table-toppers Cork City. "I was really pleased with the effort and commitment of the players last week as things went against them," Buckley said.

"We've taken the positives of that into this week's game, and after working on a few things, we're in a good state of mind heading into the game."

Derry head to Dublin in a good mood at last, as last week's 4-0 hammering of Sligo Rovers ended a run of four straight defeats, in the league and in Europe.

City and the Saints played out a 2-2 draw earlier this season and Buckley is a fan.

"Derry play a good brand of football and are a youthful side so they will come to Richmond Park looking to be positive. It should make for a good game so we're hoping to make our mark on the game as we go after the three points," he added, Pat's missing Owen Garvan through suspension after he was sent off at half time in his debut last week.

Bohemians, away to Finn Harps tonight, are also looking to recover from a 1-0 loss last week, a home defeat to champions Dundalk.

The Bohs squad has been freshened up in recent weeks: Jamie Doyle, Kaleem Simon and Dean Casey have left but new recruits Ciaran O'Connor, Keith Dalton (both Dundalk) and Dubliner Dan Casey (Sunderland) come into the panel.

Manager Keith Long feels his outfit deserved something for their display at home to Dundalk last week.

"We had shown in patches in other games what we are capable of but I think that's the best we've played over 90 minutes all season," Long says.

"We have to keep searching for that level of performance. The challenge for us now is to replicate that."

Some good recent form had allowed Bohs move up the table, with the potential to think about a European place if they can stitch a run of wins together, but Harps are a challenge. "Finn Harps are obviously in and around us at the moment, so it's an important game for both teams," says Long.

"We cannot afford to let our performance levels drop.

"Harps are a very resilient and determined team. They pick up results and are very effective, so we have to be ready for them. Our drive and determination is going to have to match theirs."

With defenders Derek Pender and Warren O'Hora out, Long may hand a debut to recent signing Dan Casey, back home after four years at Sunderland.

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