Stephen Bradley gave a team update before flying out to Bratislava. Wednesday’s match in the Tehelné Pole kicks off at 5.30pm Irish time and is exclusively available to stream on shamrockrovers.ie – details here
Were you delighted with the team’s performance against Dundalk on Friday?
“We were really happy with the performance and obviously the result. I know Alan makes a really important save at an important time but overall, I thought we deserved it.”
Were there a lot of big, individual performances on the pitch as well and quite a few man of the match contenders?
“Yes, I think the team played really well and I don’t think there was anybody you could say had an off night or a poor game. We worked extremely hard for each other. I know Liam got man of the match and deservedly so but like you say there were quite a few that could have easily got it.”
We needed to respond to our mistake of giving away the lead as well as needing Alan Mannus to pull off that stunning save. How crucial was that moment?
“Alan’s save was vital. We give away a really poor goal from our point of view. It’s a mistake, it happens, but Alan’s save at that moment in the game is crucial because obviously 2-0 becomes a different game. We’ve known over time that’s what Alan does; he makes brilliant saves at important times. Once he saved that I thought we really got going.”
And two long-range strikes by our wing-backs Liam Scales and Sean Gannon turned it around and had the thousand fans on their feet. How enjoyable was that for everybody?
“It was great because they’re two fantastic goals and the timing of the goals was really important as well. Unfortunately, we’ve had the crowd in for two games previous and couldn’t send them home with three points, so it was great to send them home happy on Friday night.”
How did you think the second half played out including a great shot by Aaron Greene to clinch it?
“I thought we were really good in the second half in terms of how we managed the game. I don’t think they had a shot on target in the second half, maybe there was one, but we defended and saw the game out really well.”
Richie Towell made his debut. You were able to bring Danny Mandroiu off the bench as well as having Dylan Watts and Joey O’Brien back from injury. How much stronger are we looking with those options?
“We’ve had a tough time the last five or six weeks in terms of injuries, there’s no getting away from that but it’s great to start seeing the players coming back. We were able to introduce Dylan, Danny and Joey which is really strong. It was great to get them back on the pitch. Dylan was in fantastic form before he got injured and it was good to get Danny on, with the knock that he had. Joey is important to us too so it’s important to have everyone available as much as possible, because between now and the end of the season there’s going to be a lot of big games.”
Slovan Bratislava is the biggest club in Slovakia, with successive doubles. In your time as manager is this probably the toughest team we’ve met at the first hurdle in Europe?
“They’re obviously a really good side. They dominate Slovakian football and they have real quality all over the pitch, top-level quality with internationals. But we’re excited by it. It’s the first time the club has been in a Champions League game for quite some time so as a group we’re really excited by it. We know it’s difficult but we’re looking forward to it. “
What reports do we have on Slovan in terms of the way they like to play and what their strengths are?
“We’ve watched quite a lot of them. The staff have watched ten games from them, obviously their games last week and their games in the back end of last season so we have quite a lot of information and the players have seen them as well. We know what they’re about, they’re a very good side but it’s one that excites us and one that we’re looking forward to.”
Being away from home in the first leg, does the removal of the away goals rule change anything for either team and what’s your opinion of it?
“The change has been made and in recent years obviously the away goal has been vital. That’s been taken out of it so I’m sure that will alter how teams go away from home and play in Europe when it’s not important. It’s going to be different, but it is what it is, and we’ll go there with a game plan.”
Which players are unable to travel on Tuesday?
“It’s just Chris McCann and Neil Farrugia who won’t travel.”