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Monday 18 December 2017

Bradley: I fear title race is over

Rovers boss understands frustration

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley says he understands the frustrations of Shamrock Rovers supporters, who watched their side throw away yet another opportunity as he fears that the league title race may already be over after one series of games.

And a frustrated Bradley, whose side are already 20 points behind league leaders Cork with only 11 games played, admits that his players need to be more ruthless and put teams away.

For the second week in a row, Rovers were in front in a league game but, following on from the previous week's 4-2 loss to Bray, the Hoops could only draw 1-1 at home to Limerick on Friday, Rodrigo Tosi equalising for Limerick to cancel out Roberto Lopes' first-half goal.

Dropped

Frustration for Rovers as well as Dundalk, Derry City and Bray Wanderers, as they all dropped points last weekend. And what was predicted to be a two-horse race for the league may now only have one runner, a Cork side who have won 11 times in 11 games and hold a 12-point lead over their nearest rivals.

"It could be that the league is already over. I think Dundalk were going to be Cork's main rivals for the title this year but Dundalk are dropping a lot of points so it may be over already," says Bradley. A title push for Rovers this season was never really on the cards but with a return of four wins from the first 11 games, a challenge for a European place could also be tough. Last weekend was another difficult night for the Hoops with that 1-1 draw at home to the Blues.

"I can understand the frustration of the suppporters. We are 1-0 up at home and concede in the 90th minute but we have to stay together and go on and win the next game," added Bradley.

"It's a tight league, everyone is picking up points and we have to do that, scrap out wins and see where it takes us. If we had beaten LImerick it would have been a massive three points for us.

"We need to just look after ourselves, one result from any number of teams last Friday could have put them fourth or fifth, in this league one or two wins can move you right up the table so there's no panic on our part if we lose a game.

"But we need to go on a run and I thought Limerick was a game where we could pick up the three points and move up the table but it wasn't to be," added the Rovers boss, who is keen to see a meaner streak in his side.

"We spoke about it in the week before the last game, if we go 1-0 up we go on and win, we certainly don't lose the game. I thought our shape was good, we were hard to break down and they had some long-range shots so I thought we had seen it out but it wasn't to be, we switched off for a second in the last minute and got punished.

Chances

"If we had gone into the break at 2-0 it would have been well-deserved, we had chances but we need to be putting those chances away.

"We had talked about it all week before the game, that Tosi is dangerous in the box and hard to mark, when he is in the box he drifts into areas that are very hard to mark and you need to get a body on him, and the one time we didn't do that he punished us."

Rovers take on Longford Town in the quarter-final of the EA Sports Cup tomorrow night before a key league game at home to Dundalk on Friday night, Dundalk still rocked by last week's 2-1 loss away to bottom side Galway United, the champions' fourth defeat in 11 games this term.

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