BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
Friday April 14th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Bohemians are determined to upset the form book when runaway league leaders Cork City come to Dalymount Park on Friday.
The Gypsies host a swaggering side looking to extend their 100% start to the league campaign to nine games.
Manager Keith Long said: “We’re playing a team with eight wins from eight games and six points clear at the top – nobody will give us a chance.
“But we’ve seen shocks around the league most Friday nights, so we will go out in the belief that can be us.
“We’ve had great home support who have been behind us all the way so far and we know they will back us again.”
Such is the early-season congestion around mid-table, sixth-placed Bohs are only two points off fourth but also two points off the relegation spots.
The Gypsies have four points from their four games at Dalymount Park this season and Long is keen for his side to improve their home form to stay ahead of the rest.
He said: “Our home form has been patchy and that’s something we’re looking to rectify.
“We know it won’t be easy but there is great determination within the group to go out and do ourselves justice.”
Bohs’ cause has been hampered by injuries to date and they will continue without several key first-teamers.
Dinny Corcoran (knee) and Jamie Doyle (quad) are still a couple of weeks off fitness, while long-term absentees Eoin Wearen (cruciate) and Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) remain on the sidelines.
But Ian Morris (knee) could come back into the fray and there was some further good news with Long revealing that Akinade has returned to training.
The striker has been unavailable all season having had surgery on March 1st to remove his spleen.
Long said: “Izzy is back in training this week, doing some gym work and working with the physios.
“The other lads are improving but not as quickly as we would have liked. We’d hoped to have Dinny back but he’s not quite where we need him to be.
“Ian will train tonight and should hopefully come back into contention.”
Key players’ continued absence has provided an opening for others to stake their claim, with the likes of Dean Casey and Fuad Sule starting in the 2-0 defeat away to Sligo Rovers on Saturday.
Sule in particular stood out having only made his first-team debut four nights previously in the EA Sports Cup against Cabinteely.
Long said: “It’s important we reward players. It’s a big step up from playing Cabinteely to playing in the Premier Division and it took him 20 minutes or so to find his feet.
“But he eventually found his rhythm and it was a very good performance from him.
“He’s a young lad and still has a lot to learn. He had a bit of a stop-start pre-season, partially due to his involvement with Maynooth in the Collingwood Cup.
“But that’s over now and he’s catching up. It was a big test for him on Saturday but he did very well.”
Although frustrated not to get anything out of the game, there were plenty of reasons for Long to take the positives out of a performance that saw Bohs dominate the second half despite failing to score.
Long said: “We played very well, but were disappointed with both goals we conceded. We pride ourselves on our set-plays, so it’s disappointing to concede from one.
“We had long periods of real pressure and dominance but didn’t take our chances. I can’t fault the effort in our performance but ultimately we feel we lost three points.
“Such was the momentum we had in the second half, if we’d pulled one back, you’d have fancied us to go on and win it.”