CHRISTOPHER FORRESTER believes that his St Patrick's Athletic side now have the league title within their grasp after a weekend win over their closest rivals.
And the U-21 cap, who scored the opening goal for the Saints in their crucial 2-0 win over challengers Dundalk on Friday night, feels that he is now hitting top form after a mid-season slump cost him his place in the Ireland U-21 squad.
Forrester ended a four-month goal drought to score for Pats at home to Dundalk, a rare headed goal from the midfielder, but an important goal in an important win for the Saints.
"Friday was a big statement from us. We knew going into the game that we had to beat Dundalk as they were challenging us for the league, so it's in our own hands now, if we keep winning games we can finish this off," Forrester told The Herald.
"We know we have won nothing yet and we're very wary of Sligo Rovers. They won on Friday night as well and they're very much in contention. They are a good side and they know how to win a league as they are the champions so we can't assume anything.
"But we're in a good position now, thanks to the win over Dundalk. If we had drawn on Friday, Sligo would have been only four points behind us and we still have to play them, so having this lead now is a huge advantage for us," added Forrester.
The former Bohemians man was pleased to see any goal go in after a difficult period in his career, and it was a blow when he was omitted from the Irish U21 squad for their recent Euro qualifier against Germany.
"I'd be the first to admit it, I had a massive slump in form this season," he says.
"I hadn't scored in a long time and I was nowhere near the form that I know I am capable of. For some reason my confidence dipped, but hopefully I am back on form now and this is the start of good things to come in the last five games.
"I was a bit upset at the time when I was left out of the Ireland U21 squad, but being honest my performances weren't good enough at the time. I'm not too hung up on the international side of it, I just want to win the league with Pat's and if other things follow from that, then great.
"I needed a goal. It was so long since I last scored that I lost count of the games, I just wanted to get one goal.
"I don't score too many goals with my head. I got one last year – against Dundalk as well – with my head but for some reason I don't get many headers.
"I think I just get headaches if I try to head it," he joked.
While the free-scoring attackers in the Pat's side earn all the praise, midfielder Forrester has lauded the contribution of a hard-working back four who have kept six clean sheets in the last seven league games.
"The work that our defenders do goes unnoticed and the lads at the back don't get the credit they deserve," he said.
"Ger O'Brien is just a great defender, Bermo (Ian Bermingham) is so good week in, week out, and at centre half Conor Kenna and Kenny Browne are so hard to play against. I think any club in the league would be glad to have defenders like that and we are lucky to have them," Forrester stated.
"Bermo does so much work that he doesn't get praise for.
"I know from seeing him go up and down the left. It's a joy for me to be playing on the left as Ian does a lot of the work to cover for me."