A THIRD-PLACE finish is now the most realistic target for St Patrick's Athletic as their slim title hopes took a nosedive with last night's scoreless draw away to Bohemians.
The likelihood of some slip-ups by the title contenders was underlined last night when Derry City missed out on their chance to go top of the table as they could only draw at home to Bray Wanderers - and Derry needed to come from behind to get their point.
Pats are in fourth place and only two points off top spot, but if Sligo Rovers (against Galway United tonight) and Shamrock Rovers (at home to Drogheda United tomorrow) win their games as expected, the Saints will slip back in the title race after their failure to win away to Bohs last night.
It was an absorbing game, played in front of a disappointing crowd of just 1,815, where referee Richie Winter did his best to undermine the efforts of both teams, booking six players in a game which was anything but dirty.
But the main outcome was the dropped points for Pats
"If Sligo and Shamrock Rovers win their games, then it's going to be very difficult for us now. I said last week that we needed to win our last six games to have a chance, and even then those six wins might not have been enough because the top two are ahead of us," said Pats boss Pete Mahon.
"I suppose there is the possibility of either Sligo or Rovers slipping up but it's hard to see both of them throwing it away at this stage.
"There's still a way to go in this league, after the Drogheda game tomorrow the next game for Rovers is against Bohs and anything can happen in that match, but realistically third place is the best we can aim for now."
Bohs are now six points off the pace with four games left, so the FAI Cup semi-final with Sligo Rovers is now their priority.
"It's a question of whether you utilise your players or rest them for the Cup semi-final and that's the predicament we're in now, trying to get the likes of Glenn Cronin and Owen Heary fit for the semi-final," said Bohs boss Pat Fenlon.