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Tuesday 27 September 2016

The Best is yet to come from Bohs

Teen star Stephen has Cup target

Bohemians' young star Stephen Best celebrates his winning goal against Sligo Rovers last Monday.
Bohemians' young star Stephen Best celebrates his winning goal against Sligo Rovers last Monday.

The loyalty of even the most dedicated Bohemians supporter was tested earlier this season when Keith Long's side delivered just one point, and no goals, from a run of six miserable games.

And defender Stephen Best says the squad want to repay the fans for their support by bringing them over the Sam Beckett Bridge and into Dublin 4 for an FAI Cup final at the end of the season, Bohs taking on Derry City in the third round of the Cup tonight.

It's the second home game in five days for the Gypsies and fans would settle for more of the same from Monday's outing, a dramatic 3-2 win over Sligo Rovers, where teenager Best scored the winner in injury time, his first senior goal.

"The Cup is a big deal for us, it's just another game for the players, but it's a big occasion for the fans," says 19-year-old Best, hoping for his fourth successive start in the Bohs side tonight.

"The Bohemians supporters have had a few tough days this season and they deserve something. They have been with us week in, week out, they stuck by us through the hard times, when we were losing games, and they deserve better things.

"We'd love to get to the final and give them a day out at the Aviva but we have to account for Derry first and that won't be easy, they beat us at Dalymount a few weeks ago so we know they can win here but if we play as well as we can we can get the job done.

Celebrate

"I'm from Bluebell so I would have been a St Pat's fan as kid but I know how much this club means to the fans and we want to give them something to celebrate."

Recruited to Bohs from Crumlin United's U17s by then manager Owen Heary, Best made his debut last season but has really impressed this term, though he was sidelined by injury for a spell, and he is aiming high.

"I had trials in England but nothing came of it, but I know that if I keep working hard here at Bohemians and keep doing well, something could happen for me, maybe a move away but for now I am focused on Bohs. I want to get into the Irish U21s as well, I have played underage for Ireland all the way up and the U21s is the next target, hopefully move on to bigger things after that," he says.

Given their league status - 11 points clear of the relegation zone, 13 points off a Europa League place - Bohs are almost guaranteed a mid-table finish in the Premier Division, so the FAI Cup is their focus. Recent form is good, as Monday's 3-2 win over Sligo Rovers leaves them unbeaten in three games.

However tonight's opponents are also playing decent stuff, as a 5-0 loss to Dundalk in July is their only defeat in 10 games, and City have also been keeping things very tight at the back, five clean sheets in the last six games.

Bohs boss Keith Long has keeper Shane Supple cup-tied, though injury would have made the ex-U21 cap a doubt anyway while Dean O'Halloran, a recent signing from Fulham, comes into contention after an impressive debut as sub in the win over Sligo on Monday.

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