- Thursday April 26th, 2012 @ 13:07
Saints Up For The Challenge
St Pat's travel to the Showgrounds this Friday to face league leaders Sligo Rovers as they aim to move closer of the summit of the Airtricity League.
The Inchicore side go in search of their first league triumph in Sligo since a Mark Leech goal gave the Saints a 1-0 victory in March 2009. Since then, the Saints have gone five games without a win in the Showgrounds, drawing twice and suffering three defeats.
While the Saints suffered a 2-0 away defeat in their first encounter with Sligo last season, it was a last minute 2-1 victory against Sligo in Richmond Park thanks to two stunning goals from Danny North that stood out in the games between the sides last year.
However the Saints's top-scorer from last year joined Sligo in the off-season, and along with former Pats' players Gary Rogers, Joey Ndo and Mark Quigley, is expected to feature for the home side.
The game featuring the only two remaining unbeaten sides in the division sees current Saints' midfielder John Russell return to the Showgrounds for the first time since joining Liam Buckley's ranks this season.
For the Galway born midfielder, the prospect of facing a club he won two FAI Cup's and one League Cup with is one he is looking forward to.
“Yeah obviously it'll be a bit weird going back there and walking into the away dressing room for once. I still keep in contact with a lot of people at Sligo, Iarfhlaith Davoren would be one of best mates so I'm sure we'll be in contact,” he told STPATSFC.COM.
“I'm not sure what kind of reception I'll get off the fans there, but I enjoyed my two years with the club, winning a few cups, so it would be nice to get a good reception.”
Saints' goalkeeper Brendan Clarke is another player to be facing his former side having been number one at Sligo last year. Clarke admitted to having thoroughly enjoyed his time at the club, stating he “couldn't speak highly enough of the people of Sligo.”
However when quickly pointing out that his focus was solely on Pats, Clarke revealed that while he expected another close affair on Friday, the side would go all out to win the game. “The games between the sides are always tight so they can go either way, but there's also no point in parking the bus against Sligo,” he admitted when speaking to STPATSFC.COM.
“Everyone knows Liam likes us to play attacking football and I think that's something the fans are enjoying so far this year. I remember working with Liam at Sporting Fingal and losing 4-3 up in Sligo, so I know we'll be aiming to come back down the M4 with the three points,” Clarke declared.
Saints' boss Liam Buckley reports that Stephen O'Flynn has a slight thigh strain, but otherwise has a full squad to choose from ahead of Friday night's televised clash.
Commenting on the test Sligo would pose his side, Buckley commended the work of new Sligo manager Ian Barraclough to date.
“Sligo have started the season impressively, and have continued to producing a really decent brand of football since Paul Cook has left.
Ian has come in at short notice and done a fantastic job to have his side at the top and still unbeaten.
We're really looking forward to the challenge though, and similarly, we'll be trying to remain unbeaten.”