“Each game is a new one and you can’t be thinking about previous meetings”

Bohemians Squad Portraits 2019

SHAMROCK ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday August 30 2019, Tallaght Stadium, 8pm

Derek Pender believes the best chance of continuing Bohemians’ recent record against Shamrock Rovers is forgetting it exists in the first place.

Bohs travel to Tallaght Stadium tomorrow looking to continue a remarkable run against their arch-rivals of seven wins and a draw in their last eight meetings.

The last time Rovers claimed the Dublin derby bragging rights was May 2017. But second in the table and unbeaten in 10 domestic games, there is more expectation than ever on Stephen Bradley’s Hoops going into this fixture.

For Bohs skipper ‘Detser’, that is not something he or his team-mates will dwell on. Their number one priority is making sure their own performance is the best it can be.

He said: “We’re looking forward to it. The Dublin derbies are great occasions to play in for both sets of players. It’s a game every player wants to be involved in.

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“People go on about the record, but that’s not something we can think about. Each game is a new one and you can’t be thinking about previous meetings.

“Rovers are in great form at the moment, so it would be foolish to think about any previous games against them.

“We know how important these games are important to fans. But we’re under no illusions as to how tough a game it will be.

“Fans have been right behind us in recent years – not just in Rovers games. But in games like that they really get behind you which is hugely important and gives everyone a lift, particularly somewhere like Tallaght.”

While Rovers come into the game in good form, Bohs’ is a bit on the bumpy side.

In recent weeks they have had it all: The release of coming from 2-0 down at 85 minutes to beat Shelbourne 3-2 in the FAI Cup, the elation of notching the club’s record league victory in a 10-1 win against UCD, the humiliation of a 6-1 defeat to Dundalk in the EA Sports Cup and, most recently, the relief of scraping past Longford Town in the FAI Cup on penalties.

It has been a roller-coaster few games. But Pender admits the team’s performances during that period need to be improved upon if they are to get anything out of tomorrow’s game.

Pender, 34, said: “UCD game aside, we haven’t been playing as well as we are capable of. We know we can do better.

“The performance in Dundalk was probably the worst we’ve played in about three years.

“The most important thing was we got over the line against Longford last week. We started afresh this week in training and it’s been a good week.

“Training has been positive and now we want to go out and give a performance we are capable of.”

Pender has for several seasons been deservedly one of the first names on the teamsheet but over the past year, Andy Lyons has started to challenge him for that right-back berth.

Ireland U19 star Lyons has deputised ably when called upon and benefited from Pender’s recent lengthy suspension for the post-match melee away to UCD in July.

Manager Keith Long will have another welcome headache deciding between the two tomorrow.

In a recent preview, Lyons hailed the impact his captain has had on his development. He said: “Detser has been great to me as he has been to all the younger players and squad as a whole. He looks after all the younger players.

“You learn so much from him all the time both on the pitch and off the pitch but because we play the same position, he has taught me so much on top of that.

“He makes you a better player every time you train with him. He’s been marking some of the same players for 8/9/10 years and he will always help me by giving me little snippets of information on them if I’m playing and how to mark them.”

Despite battling for the same spot in the team, the respect Pender has for a player 15 years his junior is mutual.

Pender said: “Andy has been brilliant for us since he broke into the team last year. Because of how good he has been you forget how young he is. He only did his Leaving Cert this year, which he gets a bit of slagging about.

“But it doesn’t matter what age he is. He’s shown he’s good enough and it’s important that we have that competition throughout the team and it pushes us all on.”

TEAM NEWS

Conor Levingston and Keith Ward are both rated 50/50 with groin strains. Ryan Graydon (ankle) also a doubt.

Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) and Dinny Corcoran (ankle) remain unavailable.

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