“We have to roll up our sleeves”

Dan Casey applauds support after Easter Monday win - A Baldiemann

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Keith Long has urged Bohemians to roll up their sleeves and tighten up at the back.

They welcome Limerick to Dalymount Park tomorrow with both sides level on nine points – Long’s side nudging seventh place on goal difference.

The Gypsies are yet to keep a clean sheet this season in nine league games and two EA Sports Cup ties.

It has been a source of much frustration as some overall promising performances have come unstuck due to defensive errors.

That was the case in Oriel Park last Friday as a clinical Dundalk side punished Bohs’ mistakes to win 3-0.

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Long said: “We conceded poor goals again. We just can’t continue to do that.

“We started off well, Dundalk were passing the ball well and had a lot of possession but they couldn’t get near us.

“But then we shot ourselves in the foot in a seven-minute period and found ourselves 2-0 down. Those goals were avoidable.

“We were a lot better in the second half but the damage was already done and Dundalk were comfortable at that stage.

“We did look the more likely team to score for much of the half before they got their third.

“Danny Grant came on for his league debut and did well. He should have had a penalty and he was probably a little too honest staying on his feet as he was fouled.

“At 2-0, that could have brought us back into the game but the damage was done with those mistakes in the first half.”

With two games a week for the past month taking its toll with a growing injury list, Long once again opted to use the EA Sports Cup as an opportunity to give both youth and players needing game-time a chance to show what they can do.

Having gone 2-0 down against First Division table-toppers UCD on Easter Monday, the experimental side battled back to 2-2 to force extra-time and a penalty shootout.

The game also ended Bohs’ unfortunate run of missing three penalties in a row (Eoghan Stokes v Derry, Keith Ward v St Pat’s and Dylan Watts v Cabinteely although the latter scored the rebound).

First, JJ Lunney scored from the spot to force extra-time and Bohs scored all five in the subsequent shootout with Stokes atoning for his penalty miss earlier in the season by netting the decisive spot-kick.

Long said: “We made 10 changes to the starting team that played against Dundalk. Dan Casey was the only player to start both games but we had taken him off against Dundalk.

“That game was a great test of where our younger players are at – UCD are in form at the top of the First Division and they played their strongest team.

“The team that we put out haven’t played a lot of football together, so there were mistakes. But they didn’t let their heads drop and the players took control of the game to turn it around.”

Last time Bohs faced Limerick, it took a late effort from Stokes for Bohs to salvage a point despite bossing much of the game.

Long added: “We have to roll up our sleeves. We are at home tomorrow and we want to deliver a good performance.

“There was a good Bohs crowd up in Dundalk and our supporters expected us to do better.

“But they are realistic too. Everyone knows that with the ten-team league and clubs with stronger resources, now more than ever there aren’t easy games.

“We want the fans on our side from the start again and the atmosphere to be right.

“If games are in the balance, our fans can really play their part.

“They can give our players that little bit of extra confidence, so we hope Dalymount is bouncing again and an intimidating place for teams to come and play.”

TEAM NEWS

Skipper Derek Pender (calf) will sit this one out again. Kevin Devaney (virus), Philly Gannon (hamstring) and Rob Cornwall (back) are all also sidelined.

Dan Byrne (groin), Keith Buckley (hamstring) and Paddy Kavanagh (hamstring) are all doubts.

Long-term absentees Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal) and Ryan Swan (cruciate) remain out.

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