Bohemians are chasing their first three-in-a-row of the season when they take on Ian Foster’s Dundalk at Oriel Park on Friday having recorded back to back wins last week over Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United.
The home side however have gone goal happy, scoring 11 goals in their last two games. Ex-Bohemian Mark Quigley, with a first-half hat trick, spearheaded their 5-1 demolition of Bray on Tuesday. On the artificial surface at Oriel, Dundalk will represent formidable opposition.
“We’ve done all right there over the last few years. I’m confident we can go and get a result,” said Bohemian manager Pat Fenlon.
The two teams are level on points in the league , with exactly the same number of wins, losses and draws. Bohemians have the better away record but Dundalk have scored nearly twice as many goals.
Fenlon has an almost-full squad to choose from, with only goalkeeper Chris O’Connor (facial injury) out. “When we have everybody fit we can beat anyone,” Fenlon said. “We now have players on the bench that can change games.”
With suspensions coming up next week, a good injury-free result against Dundalk becomes even more important.
A half-dozen senior players who have been regular starters were rested or were on the subs’ bench for Tuesday’s friendly against Dundee United when several younger players made strong cases for inclusion in the senior team match-day squads.
Fenlon has several times commented that his team was “playing well in patches”. He knows a high level of consistency will be needed against Ian Foster’s side.
Bohemians have found Dundalk difficult to crack this season, after they had three wins and one defeat against the Co Louth side in the league last season. Following a hard-fought scoreless draw in Oriel Park in March, Bohemians were beaten by a late goal from Colin Hawkins in Dalymount on 9th May.
Having strikers Christy Fagan and Anto Flood available at the same time was a big part of the two victories last week. Bohemians’ four goals in those two matches were as many as they had scored in the previous eight league games.
Fenlon is “delighted” to have his two main strikers available. “They give us different options”, he said. He will be looking to them to level up this season’s record against Dundalk with a win on Friday.
Dundalk winger Ross Gaynor, meanwhile, is hoping that the European involvement of three of the top four will distract them from their league form and allow his side to find a way back into the title race. The 23-year-old was looking ahead to his 50th league start against Bohs, a game that the Lilywhites go into on arguably their best run of performances since manager Ian Foster took over in December 2009, with the Ardee native stating that they are finally “clicking together”
“We’re hoping to benefit from Europe like other teams around us were last year,” Gaynor told his clubs website. “I thought we struggled in the league last year when we were playing in Europe, and teams will do that this year, so I think that’s where we’ll pick up points. Obviously, teams around us are playing in Europe and to close that gap would be great. I know we’re nine points off top but we’re not looking at that, we’re just looking at the next game. We have some important players to come back and once we get a few back I think we’ll definitely be title contenders”.
“With such a small squad, I think we had the same 11 for more or less half the season last year,” he added. “Europe, with the travelling and coming back and playing games a couple of days later, it was draining. Everyone was rundown. It was a good experience to play in Europe but obviously the league form dipped massively. It was a good distraction from the league, but this year we can concentrate on the league. I think a few more good results and we’ll definitely start pushing Rovers and the other teams up there for the title. We just have to keep working hard and playing the way we’re playing, and I think we’ll give any team a run for their money.”
Top scorers:Dundalk: Mark Quigley 8
Bohemians Anto Flood 6
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