PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY

Ross Tierney - Stephen Burke

BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY
SSE Airtricity League
Friday April 30 2021
Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Live on WatchLOI.ie

Keith Long has urged Bohemians to cut out mistakes at the back and to become ruthless in front of goal to deliver the results recent overall performances have deserved.

After back-to-back wins against Dundalk and Waterford, Bohs were left empty-handed from two high tempo games last week. First, at home to Sligo Rovers on Tuesday and then away to Shamrock Rovers on Friday night.

It was bitterly disappointing for Bohs, particularly the result in Tallaght when, with Ross Tierney dazzling in midfield, they produced some of their best football of the season only to be condemned to defeat by baffling officiating.

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Long said: “There is no doubt in my mind that our performances deserved more with some good football in both games against both Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers.

“Unfortunately, a combination of some bad defending, some poor finishing and some dreadful officiating cost us.

“We need to be more clinical in both boxes, cutting out some basic errors defensively and taking our chances when they come our way.”

There is no denying that Bohs’ finishing had let them down in performances that otherwise produced plenty of positives. With Sligo winning 2-1, Keith Ward had a glorious opportunity to level the game but somehow scuffed his shot wide and the Bit O’Red instead went on to add a third.

Similarly in Tallaght, both Liam Burt and Georgie Kelly, albeit the latter under serious pressure from a defender, found themselves in good positions to score but both failed to hit the target.

Long said: “We have been guilty of missing some really gilt-edged chances in the last two games and we must take those opportunities and become ruthless in front of goal.

“We will stick to our principles and we will not allow set-backs to set us back. We have a firm belief in what we are doing and we will do what we have always done by trying to move forward and to become better.”

While cursing mistakes at the back and missed opportunities up front, it was a refereeing decision that cost Bohs most dearly on Friday as a penalty was controversially awarded against James Finnerty, who was inexplicably shown a red card for the same incident.

Long said: “Unfortunately a great game and a great advertisement for the league was spoiled by a refereeing decision that saw us ultimately lose the game and also lost James to a red card.

“I do not have selective memory – it is important to note we have benefitted from some decisions in previous derby games, most notably when Lee Grace was sent off for a handball when the ball hit his face.

“My argument is that it only became clear upon watching the replay back several times to realise the ball actually hit Lee on the face and not in fact the hand. It was almost impossible for the referee in real time to think otherwise.

“But Friday’s decision was not like for like, and the referee gets it wrong in my opinion. He obviously feels that James’ action was serious foul play to deny a goalscoring opportunity. Clearly this was not the case and we were punished on the double.

“On balance, decisions tend to even themselves out over a season and maybe our good fortune is yet to come. It is important however to demand an improvement from our officials.

“They are a very important stakeholder in our game and there are some really good guys doing a difficult job. But they need to be more accountable for their actions and the process to which they are made accountable needs to be more transparent.”

Having parted ways with manager Declan Devine last week, visitors Derry City got their ‘new manager bounce’ when they beat Sligo 1-0 last Saturday at the Showgrounds in former Bohemians midfielder Ruaidhrí Higgins’ first game in charge.

Long said: “Ruaidhrí got his reign as Derry boss off to the best possible start with an away win at Sligo and his team will come to Dalymount with great confidence and belief.”

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James Finnerty is suspended. Bastien Héry (ankle) and Stephen Mallon (metatarsal) remain out.

Long added: “Thankfully James’ ban is only for one game. Bastien stepped up his recovery from his ankle injury and has taken part in parts of training this week but he is not yet available for selection this week.

“Stephen is making good progress and we hope to see him return to parts of training next week.”

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