“The lads walk out and see what it means to the people who travel around the country behind us”

Kris Twardek opens his account for the Gypsies - Stephen Burke

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday February 28 2020, Ryan McBride Stadium, 7.45pm

Bohemians are looking to build on a positive week when they travel to face Derry City at the Brandywell tonight.

The Gypsies’ season opener defeat in injury-time against Shamrock Rovers has been put behind them with successive 2-0 victories against Waterford and Sligo Rovers respectively.

Manager Keith Long said: “We were very good down in the RSC against Waterford in horrendous conditions.

“Against Sligo on Monday, we started very well and got ahead early on through Danny Mandroiu. We could have made life a bit easier for ourselves when we were converted chances we had when we were on top.

“Sligo made us sweat as a result then in the last 15 minutes or so and had their own opportunities before we got the second through Kris Twardek late on.

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“But we’ve two 2-0 wins and two clean sheets for Stephen McGuinness in his first two games for the club so I’m pleased.”

McGuinness is one of several new players tasting first-team football at Bohs for the first time.

His chance to impress came sooner than expected after being drafted into the team following a foot injury suffered by regular first-choice keeper James Talbot against Shamrock Rovers a fortnight ago.

Having a strong pool of players available and ready to slot in when required will be key for Bohs’ attempts to consolidate last year’s third-place finish. Various injury crises over the course of last season saw the Gypsies falter on occasion but there is a feeling that there is greater strength in depth this time around.

Long said: “It’s still very early in the season, we’re only three games in. But we’re going to again have a disproportionate amount of games in the first half of the season so we need to use our squad and be able to call on players who are capable of stepping in.

“We’ve seen Kris Twardek come in and do very well for us so far in the games he’s played and opened his account for us on Monday. Stephen McGuinness has come in and kept two clean sheets.

“Glen McAuley gives us different options up front too. He’s a different kind of player to Dinny Corcoran or Andre Wright. He’s worked very hard over the last two games and his efforts probably deserved a goal.

“We’ve got good competition for places in various positions. Anto Breslin played the first two games and did very well at left-back but Paddy Kirk came in on Monday night and was excellent, so you’ve two good players going head to head for the one position and pushing each other.”

The Gypsies were unbeaten in four league games against Declan Devine’s Candystripes last season, winning one and drawing three, but there wasn’t a whole lot between the teams and just three points separated Bohs in third and Derry in fourth in the final league standings.

Long is expecting another close encounter tonight against a side who lost their opening game of the season 1-0 to champions Dundalk before needing a late equaliser to secure a point against rivals Finn Harps last week.

Long said: “The Brandywell is a great stadium to play in so we are looking forward to it. There has been very little between the sides last year.

“They’ve lost some players but they’ve brought in new faces too, some we’re familiar with, some less so.

“They have the advantage going into this game of having not played on Monday, so they’ll have been able to prepare well and will be fresh whereas we still have people recovering.

“They acquitted themselves well against Dundalk, despite losing. We know it will always be difficult against them and they’ll be looking for three points.”

Long hopes Bohs’ bid to get a result at the Ryan McBride Stadium will once again be assisted by a vocal travelling support encouraging them from the off. An away support of 450 did just that last week against Waterford.

He added: “Every time we go to the Brandywell, we tend to bring a good crowd with us. It’s really important to have that backing behind us.

“It was huge for us last season and most memorably in the cup the season before.

“It might be a cliche but it’s true that a big travelling support after a long journey really gives the lads a big lift.

“They walk out on to the pitch and they get to see what it means to the people who travel around the country and get behind us.

“We brought a massive support down to Waterford last week in horrendous conditions and that was significant to our players.”

TEAM NEWS

Dinny Corcoran (groin), James Finnerty (calf) and James Talbot (ankle) remain doubtful.

Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) is out for the season.

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