“We showed people there is quality in our league”

Keith Ward and Danny Mandroiu - Stephen Burke

UCD v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Monday July 15 2019, UCD Bowl, 7.45pm

Keith Ward hopes newcomers to League of Ireland grounds in recent days will have been suitably impressed to make a return trip.

Bohemians and St Patrick’s both entertained Europa League winners Chelsea this week.

First they came to Dalymount Park on Wednesday in Frank Lampard’s first game in the charge of the visitors.

Keith Long’s side found themselves a goal down inside ten minutes.

But the assured response perhaps caught the Londoners somewhat off-guard and Bohs’ endeavours eventually paid off with an equalising goal a minute from time, scored by trialist Eric Molloy, which 14-year-old debutant Evan Ferguson helped to set up.

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Wardy, 28, said: “It was a great night on Wednesday for the club. As a team I think we gave a very good account of ourselves.

“The way we played, I think outsiders to the league at the game will have been impressed.

“We kept the ball and we went at them when we could. We know it was only a friendly but hopefully we showed people there is quality in our league and that we can play.”

Eric Molloy celebrates equaliser v Chelsea – Thomas McCormack

Bohs emptied their bench on Wednesday – it was very much an exhibition game. But it is back to real business tomorrow when they face a resurgent UCD in Belfield.

Collie O’Neill has seen key men Conor Davis, Neil Farrugia and Gary O’Neill leave the club in recent weeks but has also seen his team move off the foot of the table in the same period.

First they beat Finn Harps in a relegation six-pointer. And on Friday they both helped Bohs’ bid to stay in third but also provided Long’s men a reminder – if one was needed – that they are capable of getting results as they drew 0-0 away to fourth-placed Derry City.

Ward said: “You can’t underestimate UCD, they’ve got good young players. We know they’ve lost some players but they still have quality and they’ve brought in Jack Keaney from Sligo too.

“They’ve got a win and a draw in their last two games and we are in for a tricky game. We’ve done our homework and we know it will be difficult.”

To get a result, Bohs will need to be more potent in front of goal than they have in recent weeks. James Talbot has claimed three clean sheets from four but up front, Bohs have fired blanks in recent 0-0 draws against Derry City and Cork City.

Ward concedes they are missing key man Dinny Corcoran, out with an ankle injury. But he has backed Bohs’ attacking players, himself included, to come up with the goods.

He said: “When any team loses their main striker it can be difficult. It’s up to us as attacking players to step up.

“When we don’t keep clean sheets, we’re at our defenders so as attacking players we know we need to chip in at the other end too.

“We’re working hard in training to do that and I know we can improve.”

One man in midfield who has chipped in at various stages this season is Danny Mandroiu.

Up until this season, Ward tended to occupy the role of attacking midfielder sitting in behind the lone striker.

But Mandroiu’s form in that position has seen Ward moved out to the left wing, while they both also vie for set-piece duties.

Ward laughs: “I nearly scored a free-kick against Derry! Our rivalry is a healthy one, but I’m older and better looking.

“The fans have taken to him, he’s been great for us. Obviously, everyone was talking about the goal against Rovers and he deserved to win Player of the Month.

“But he’s been one of the standout players in the league and they’re the kind of players you want to play with. I don’t mind playing on the wing, the main thing is I’m playing and contributing to the team.”

TEAM NEWS

Aaron Barry (hamstring), Rob Cornwall (Achilles), Danny Grant (hamstring), Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out. Andy Lyons is away with the Ireland U19s.

Michael Barker and Kevin Devaney (both concussion) returned to the fray against Chelsea.

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