GREG BOLGER has called on his St Patrick's Athletic teammates to show their character and prove their title credentials by bouncing back in the Brandywell tonight.
After a sunny few weeks which saw Pats take 10 points from a possible 12 in the league and also cruise into the last eight of the FAI Cup, a gloom descended on Inchicore over the weekend, as a draw at home to Bohemians on Friday – along with a win for Dundalk away to UCD – allowed Dundalk go top of the table.
Pats could be five points ahead of Dundalk by time Stephen Kenny's outfit line out again on Sunday in the Louth derby, with games lined up away to Derry City (tonight) and Limerick (Saturday).
Manager Buckley reminded fans and players that their fate was still in their own hands, as even a draw in Derry would see them regain leadership in the league.
But midfielder Bolger, who has missed just one league game for the Saints this season, says an improvement is needed.
"We need to show a bit of character now, show what we are made of," said Bolger (below). "The Bohs game on Friday was disappointing. Bohs looked a lot fitter than us, and we didn't create much in the second half against them. Bohs are fighting for their lives and they deserved their point against us.
"All we can do is try to win our next two games, we go to Derry tonight and if we can get the win there we will be well placed.
"This is a massive week for us, two big away games in Derry and Limerick, if we can win both we will be in a very strong position, but it's easy to just talk about winning games, we have to go out there and do it."
Dundalk have emerged as the main challengers to Pats this season, although reigning champions Sligo Rovers, themselves in action against Drogheda tonight, are only six points off the pace.
"Fair play to Dundalk, they are there on merit," says the Wexford native.
"Stephen Kenny had done a superb job and they are getting the results. We have to focus on ourselves, make sure we get a good result in Derry and carry on from there."
Derry City v St Patrick's Athletic
(Brandywell, Live Setanta Ireland 7.45)
TEAM NEWS: Worries for Derry as Stewart Greacen, Kevin Deery, Thomas Crawley and Sean Houston are likely to miss out. John Russell could return for Pats.
MATCH POINT: Massive night for Pats, as a win here would restore their lead at the top of the table. Derry's form is a worry, especially in defence (nine goals conceded in the last four league games) but City can earn a draw.
BETTING: Derry 23/10, Pats 11/10, draw 9/4
Drogheda United v Sligo Rovers
(Hunky Dory's Park, 7.45)
TEAM NEWS: Drogheda recall Declan O'Brien from suspension. For Sligo, Ross Gaynor, Iarfhlaith Davoren and Evan McMillan are out but David McMillan is fit again, having made a sub appearance in Saturday's win over Limerick.
MATCH POINT: United have been really impressive recently, and other keepers in the league can only envy Michael Schlingermann's run of four successive clean sheets in the league. A win for Sligo would put them back into contention for the league but Rovers may have to settle for a point.
BETTING: Drogheda 5/2, Sligo 1/1, draw 23/10