League Preview: Bohemians -v- Sligo Rovers
Bohemians will have an eye on moving closer to European qualification when they host Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Gypsies are just five points behind second placed Derry City currently and a win could see them leapfrog Shelbourne into fourth place and go one point behind St Patrick’s Athletic.
Their chances at automatic European football and a challenge at the Premier Division title have taken a major hit in recent weeks – Bohs have failed to secure a win in all five of their previous league games.
On Monday night they hosted Shelbourne and had to come from behind to rescue a point at home.
Jack Moylan put the Reds ahead midway through the first half, but Ali Coote scored in the 74th minute to give Declan Devine’s side a share of the points.
With any shot at the Premier Division title all but over, Bohemians will no doubt have one eye on their FAI Cup semi-final encounter with Galway United which takes place on Saturday, 7 October.
A victory over the Tribesmen and progress to the Final in the Aviva Stadium in November can give Devine another avenue into European football next season.
“There’s a great team spirit among the lads so they’ve really done well blending us together and hopefully it can continue,” James Clarke said, speaking to extratime.com at the launch of EAFC 24.
“I've loved my time at Bohs and I love playing there. I love playing at Dalymount Park and I think the fans are brilliant. We bring a great crowd to every game.”
“These are exciting times for Bohemians with an FAI Cup semi-final against Galway United looming on the horizon.
“It’s a massive game against Sligo on Friday and then a massive game against Galway the week after,” Clarke added, “but Sligo comes first and we’ll have to be ready for that.”
It’s been a difficult campaign for Sligo Rovers this season and talk of the Bit O’Red being dragged into a relegation playoff was not unfounded in recent weeks with John Russell’s side looking like they could get overtaken by Cork City.
Rovers secured a massive result on Monday night which has given the side some comfort with just five games remaining in the Premier Division season.
Stefan Radosavljević scored the only goal of the game when Sligo hosted Derry City on Monday night and with Cork City losing heavily to Dundalk that same evening, the Bit O’Red are now nine points clear of ninth place with five games to go.
The job isn’t quite finished however, and John Rusell will be looking to get another good performance from his side as he looks to ensure Sligo Rovers avoid beinh sucked into a relegation playoff.
“Bohs have a very good home record so this will be another difficult game,” Sligo boss John Russell said, speaking to the club’s media team.
“They’re going for Europe and have had a good season. We’re going there with confidence after back-to-back wins which is something we wanted.
“There is still hurting there though. It’s not just a case of picking up a win or two and being happy with it.
“There is five games to go and we’re in control of what we do from now to the end of the season to get as many points as we can and as many big performances as we can.
“They’re tough games and you see in this league how hard it is to win every week. It has to be our target to keep it going.
“We have to win as many as we can and keep improving in terms the levels we reach.
“The players have trained well again and we go there looking for three points.”
Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan
Bohemians are looking for their first win in six matches on Friday night – they haven’t won a league game since they hosted Drogheda United on August 4.
Sligo haven’t won in Dalymount Park since April 2021 – they beat the Gypsies 3-1 that night.
If Rovers win and Cork City lose (to St Patrick’s Athletic) on Friday – it will essentially confirm Sligo’s safety this season. Rovers will be 12 points clear of the Rebels with four games to go but with a far superior goal difference.
Bohemians 1–1 Sligo Rovers
Injured: Mark Byrne, Gary Boylan.