“We need to show more desire”

SLIGO ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, The Showgrounds, Saturday 14 May 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians they need to show more desire in front of goal to end their goalless and winless streak.

Despite periods of possession and dominance in recent games, the Gypsies have gone 591 minutes without scoring.

Bohs’ last goal and win came in the 2-0 victory away to Bray Wanderers on April 9 and Long is determined to rectify that at The Showgrounds tomorrow.

Long said: “We can’t be waiting for the perfect pass or the perfect opportunity in front of goal as it may never come – we need to show more desire in front of goal and make things happen for ourselves.”

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Bohs will be without striker Mark Quigley, who is suspended after his red card in Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Cork City.

But the Gypsies’ options up front have been boosted by the return of Ismahil Akinade, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Akinade featured as a substitute against Cork and is in contention for a starting place for the first time in four weeks.

Long said: “Izzy hadn’t been right for a few weeks so we needed to give him time to recover. He offers us a different dimension to our play and a different dynamic up front.”

Bohs’ bid to end their barren run saw Jake Kelly and Kurtis Byrne restored to the starting line-up against Cork City.

Long said: “We tried to bring some positivity to our attacking play by bringing in Jake and Kurtis in central areas. There were positive signs early on in the game with good movement and interchanging of positions but we lacked end product.

“We conceded a poor goal at a bad time and we allowed Cork see out the game far too comfortably.

“We were the home team and we should have been bringing the game to them after we conceded but we didn’t do that, which is disappointing.”

A Kurtis Byrne wonder goal gave Bohs a 1-0 victory against tomorrow’s opposition the last time the sides met.

But Dave Robertson’s men are a much-improved side since. Before Tuesday’s defeat away to Shamrock Rovers, the Bit O’Red had won their previous three games in a row.

Long added: “I’ve been very impressed with Sligo any time I’ve seen them. They will be playing with real confidence, despite the result in Tallaght.

“But we have to concentrate on our own performances. We are not a million miles off getting it right and with a little more belief and hard work we can improve our league standing”

Bohs are without Quigley (suspended) and Jason Caffrey (hamstring). Ayman Ben Mohamed (groin) is a doubt.

“There are goals in this team”

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Tuesday 10 May 2016, 7.45pm

Bohemians manager Keith Long says his players won’t need any picking up as they bid to end their barren run on Tuesday night.

Friday’s 0-0 draw away to Finn Harps made it five league games without a win or goal.

Bohs spurned a golden opportunity to bring that run to an end when Anto Murphy saw his injury-time penalty saved by Harps goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher.

Long said: “We complained about a lack of luck in recent weeks but then we got it with a penalty in injury-time and didn’t take it.

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“It was a poor game and our performance wasn’t good enough. But Paddy Kavanagh missed a good chance in the first half, albeit under pressure from two defenders, and then we missed the penalty.

“We kept a clean sheet but if we had taken those chances, we’d have been going home with a 2-0 win.”

After a sluggish first series of fixtures, the Gypsies sit ninth with 11 points from 11 games.

But Long is adamant his players won’t need any extra motivation when taking on second-placed Cork City and said: “They’re professionals – the lads won’t need picking up.”

Despite the disappointing run, Long believes the goals will come.

He said: “We haven’t been creating enough. We know we haven’t clicked and we’ve spoken about that as a group.

“We’ve been lacking end product. And even the chances we do create, we haven’t been taking them. We’ve been working hard in training to rectify that and will continue to do so in order for us to climb up the table.

“There are goals in this team. Izzy Akinade is out but we still have attacking players who can score goals in Mark Quigley, Kurtis Byrne and Jake Kelly.”

Getting back to winning ways won’t be easy against John Caulfield’s high-flying Cork City, who are currently just four points off league leaders Dundalk.

Long added: “I saw Cork against Bray Wanderers on Saturday. They were very comfortable once they got the first goal and gave a professional performance to see the game out 2-0. They’ve quality players in every position.

“We played them on the opening day of the season and, after matching them for 60 minutes, two defensive mistakes cost us. But this will be a different game and we will be up for it.”

Bohs are once again without Ismahil Akinade (hamstring), Jason Caffrey (hamstring) and Adam Evans (virus) but James Kavanagh (virus) is back in contention.

Ayman Ben Mohamed, who came off with a groin strain at half-time against Harps, is a doubt.

“We need to start putting the ball in the net!”

FINN HARPS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Finn Park, Friday 6 May 2016, 8pm

K[/drocpap]eith Long has told Bohemians it is time to start turning in 90-minute performances.

The Gypsies have been cursing their luck in recent weeks as, despite several periods of dominance, they have come away both pointless and without scoring in league meetings with Shamrock Rovers, Derry City and Dundalk.

Long said: “We have a group of lads who are all working really hard. I’ve said it before, but if we maintain that effort and build upon it, our luck will change.

“We’ve played great in patches throughout the season. Now we need to replicate that for the whole game and give 90-minute performances.

“We have to start making the most of games when we’re in the ascendancy and ultimately we need to start putting the ball in the net.”

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Bohs were unfancied going into last Friday’s game against champions Dundalk, who have a 100 per cent record away from home in the league this season.

While the game finished 2-0 to the league leaders, once again the scoreline did not tell the whole story.

Long’s men enjoyed the lion’s share of both possession and chances in the opening half before coming unstuck from a stunning Daryl Horgan free-kick seven minutes before half-time.

Long said: “We played very well in the first half. I thought at the time that we should have had a penalty in the first half too and, after seeing it again, I’m sure it was a penalty.

“Then Gary Rogers made a great save to deny Derek Prendergast. Last year, these were the things that were going our way, going in for us and making the difference.

“It still hasn’t quite happened for us yet this season but we are determined to rectify that.”

Getting back to winning ways at Finn Park will be easier said than done.

Since winning promotion to the Premier Division, Ollie Horgan’s men have won three of their five home league games this season, while their two defeats in Ballybofey have been decided by the odd goal.

Long added: “Harps have continued the home form they had last season since they came up.

“They’ve made Finn Park an intimidating place to go to, but our lads know what is expected of them.”

Long is once again without Ismahil Akinade (hamstring), Jason Caffrey (hamstring) and Adam Evans (virus). James Kavanagh (virus) will also sit this one out, but Eoin Wearen (hip) is back in contention.

“WE HAVE STRONG CHARACTERS”

BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 29 April 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long believes Bohemians have the strength in character to upset the odds against champions Dundalk at Dalymount Park on Friday.

The Gypsies come into the game on the back of a frustrating fortnight but Long says his players’ hard work can once again see them rise to the occasion against the league leaders.

Bohs were the only team to defeat the Lilywhites in the league last season and also beat them in the Leinster Senior Cup earlier this month.

Long said: “Dundalk are back-to-back champions for a reason. They are the benchmark in standards we all have to strive to match.

“These kind of games are the ones you want to play in, albeit we would like to be in better form coming into it.

“There are maybe some players who are suffering in confidence a little bit as they haven’t yet hit the same heights as last season.

“But there is nobody you can point the finger at for not giving their all. We have a dressing room of strong characters – the harder and smarter we work, the more our luck will change.”

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Luck has been in short supply in recent weeks. After Dublin derby defeats to Shamrock Rovers in the league and on penalties to Shelbourne in the EA Sports Cup, Bohs sought to get back to winning ways against high-flying Derry City last Friday.

But, despite a lively second-half performance, the Gypsies were left frustrated at The Brandywell when a strong defensive display saw the second-placed Candystripes eke out a 1-0 victory for their fifth home league win from five.

Long said: “Derry are flying at the moment, but we felt we should have got something out of it.

“Kurtis Byrne had the best chance of the game and we should have had a penalty in the second half when Paddy Kavanagh was fouled in the box.

“We didn’t play the referee or go looking for the penalty like some teams would – maybe we need to be cuter in those situations in future.

“We were disappointed with the goal we conceded too. We had spoken of the threat posed by Barry McNamee’s runs and it was an easy finish for Rory Patterson.”

Eoin Wearen (hip), Ismahil Akinade (hamstring), Jason Caffrey (hamstring) and Adam Evans (virus) will sit out Friday’s game.

But Long’s defensive options are boosted by the return of captain Derek Pender, Anto Murphy and Dylan Hayes, who all sat out the Derry game with a virus that has hampered team selections over the last month.

The unavailability of Bohs’ three most prominent options at right-back saw Dan Byrne deputise in that position in Derry.

Long added: “Kenny Shiels talked about his players being fatigued. On top of everything, we had played over 120 minutes in the EA Sports Cup on the Monday and had a 3½-hour trip up to Derry four days later!

“We had to play the hand we were dealt and switch things around, but I think we are in a much better place this week.”

“We cannot feel sorry for ourselves”

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, The Brandywell, Friday 22 April 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long has challenged his Bohemians side to “go out and restore some pride” at The Brandywell on Friday.

The Gypsies are licking their wounds after successive defeats against the club’s two oldest Dublin rivals.

Last Friday’s 4-0 league loss to Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount was compounded three days later when, having been frustrated 0-0 after extra time, Bohs were dumped out of the EA Sports Cup on penalties against Shelbourne at Tolka Park.

Long said: “It’s been a bad week. We were obviously particularly disappointed with the result against Rovers. We know that the result and scoreline weren’t acceptable.

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“Everyone is hurting, but we cannot feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to pick ourselves up, go to Derry and put in a fighting performance and show some character.”

Although Friday’s scoreline suggested Rovers dominance, Bohs can be forgiven for wondering what might have been.

The better team for much of opening half, the home side were dismantled by some clinical Rovers finishing a minute either side of half-time.

Long said: “The timing of the goals killed us. For the opener, it was a needless free-kick to give away in a dangerous position and we got punished.

“We came back out after the break in a positive mind and straight away hit the crossbar. Then Rovers go down the other end, hit us with a sucker-punch and we are left chasing the game.”

Trailing in the same fixture at the same venue last season, Bohs changed from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 formation, substituting a midfielder, Jake Hyland, for a striker, Dean Kelly. The move saw the home side score three goals in the final 15 minutes to clinch a 3-1 win.

Losing 2-0 down last Friday, Bohs made similar tactical switch, with midfielder Keith Buckley making way for striker Kurtis Byrne on 56 minutes.

Long said: “We brought on a second striker and sacrificed a midfielder to try get a goal back and get back into the game.

“We did something similar in the same fixture last season and it worked for us. We tried it last week and it didn’t work. Chasing the game, we left ourselves exposed and were punished.”

A determined performance saw Bohs look to make amends against Shels on Monday. But after large spells of dominance and countless goal-scoring opportunities, the Gypsies failed to find the net and came unstuck in a penalty shootout.

Long said: “The week went from bad to worse. Anything can happen in a penalty shootout but it was very frustrating as we created more than enough chances – both in normal time and in extra time – to win comfortably.”

The Gypsies won’t have it any easier when they travel to face high-flying Derry City. Long’s side won all three fixtures against the Candystripes last season, including two victories at The Brandywell.

But under new manager Kenny Shiels, Derry are a different animal this year, occupying second place and just two points off defending champions Dundalk.

Long said: “It’s going to be a very difficult game for us. Derry are in really good form, have some really good players and have made The Brandywell a fortress again.”

Once again, Bohs’ options have been disrupted by both illness and injury. Ismahil Akinade and Jason Caffrey are both ruled out with hamstring injuries.

There was, however, some good news with Dylan Hayes, whose injury against Shels held the game up for 12 minutes, discharged quickly from hospital on Monday night. Hayes said: “It was nothing too serious – just an elbow to the head and all precautions had to be taken.”

Of more concern is the flu-like virus which has affected several members of the squad over the past month, including Hayes.

Hayes and Jake Kelly played through the symptoms on Monday, but the former is not considered well enough for tomorrow.

Ayman Ben Mohamed and captain Derek Pender, both now suffering with the bug, are also regarded as doubtful for the trip.

Eoin Wearen, Dave Mulcahy and Jake Kelly have all sat out games at various stages with the same virus, while Roberto Lopes was also affected.

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