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Tickets for away fans are sold out. The match is available to stream on LOITV. Kickoff is at 7.30 pm
Stephen Bradley spoke to shamrockrovers.ie ahead of Saturday’s match away to Longford Town:
Were you pleased with the second half performance against Bohs to come back like that with ten men?
“I think the players deserve tremendous credit for how they handled the game when we went down to ten men. I thought we were poor up until the sending off but I felt after that, the players were excellent and showed really high fitness levels, character and bravery to play the way they did for so long with ten men.”
Have you watched back Pico Lopes’ red card decision and do you still feel the same about it?
“Yes, I feel the exact same as I did at the time. After the game I said it was a free kick but it’s actually not when you watch it. It’s both of them; the forward is holding Pico and Pico is holding the forward. If he’s going to give a free kick for that then he could have given 10 or 15 free kicks for us and them because that was happening throughout the game. And then to give a sending off for it was an incredible decision from the referee. It was one of the worst decisions I’ve seen all year. It was shocking when you watch it back.”
What kind of derby was it shaping up to be at that point and as you’ve said, the team was really below par in that first half?
“I thought in the first 10 minutes we started really well, with a really good tempo and then we got sloppy in aspects of our play, which allowed them to come into the game. Then when the sending off happened it woke us up again. I thought it was a typical derby game. Up until that point there wasn’t brilliant quality by either team but it was a competitive, feisty game, which they always are.”
We got a bit of luck with Richie Towell’s goal and then some great chances fell to Aidomo late on, so we could have actually won it in the end?
“We probably should have won it and on another day you win the game with the chances we had at the end. But if you had offered us a point when you’re down to ten men and 1-0 down so early in the game, you would have taken that. So you’ve got to be happy to come away with a point, considering how it played out.”
Did you feel the three substitutes turned the game in our favour as you were able to bring on a lot of pace and go at them?
“It’s been the case all year that whoever is on the bench for us in any game, we know they’re going to be really important to go and try and win games. Monday was no different. We knew we were bringing on quality and I thought the three – Aaron, Neil and Aidomo – did really well. That’s been the case all season, whoever has not started has come on and made a real impact.”
Longford have just been relegated but we have needed late goals to beat them all three times this year. What do you expect travelling down there?
“It’ll be a tough game. We’ve scored late a number of times against them so they obviously haven’t been easy games and Saturday will be no different. We’ll be fully focused on winning three points and taking us closer to that target of winning the league.”
You’ve spoken about ‘driving it home’ and only six more points are needed now. Are the players just thinking about taking another big step on Saturday?
“Of course, that’s our aim. We’ve been in really good form and picking up a lot of points. Saturday will be no different; we’re going there to take maximum points and take us another step closer to achieving our target.”
Gary O’Neill looked to have suffered a concussion against Bohs and Sean Kavanagh also had to go off with a knee injury shortly after he came on. How are they?
“Gary is fine. It was a suspected concussion and protocols are that you have to get checked a number of times after the game and throughout the week. Thankfully everything came back in all the tests that he’s OK but Sean will be longer. He’s been so unfortunate because he’s only on the pitch and he tries to flick a ball and gets caught in the exact same area that that he got caught in the last time. It looks like he’s tweaked the same injury, so Sean will definitely be out.”
Lee Grace started on the bench against Bohs, is he fit and is anyone else missing for Saturday?
“Lee just had an issue before the game but he’s fine and ready to go. Only Pico, he is suspended.”