There was deep disappointment in Drogheda last Friday night for Shamrock Rovers when they went out of the FAI Cup at the very first hurdle.
Having come into the match in a rich vein of form – five wins and a draw from their last six league games including six consecutive clean sheets – to be dumped out by Drogheda United was a bitter pill to swallow for the Hoops.
The FAI Cup famine continues for yet another year which makes the arrival of bitter cross city rivals Bohemians to Tallaght on Friday night (kick off 8pm) all the more of a must-win game for Hoops supporters, who haven’t seen a win over the Gypsies from the three Dublin derbies to date this season.
“We're gutted,” was Hoops head coach Stephen Bradley’s succinct assessment of the cup exit last week.
“It's obviously a competition we wanted to go as far as possible in but we weren't good enough on the night and we got what we deserved, which was going out.”
A first half United penalty when Lee Grace got a straight red card, with ex-Hoop Chris Lyons scoring from the resulting penalty, put Rovers on the back foot but Bradley felt his team were hard done by with the sending off.
“I think it was a penalty but definitely not a red card because,, if you look at it, Joey O'Brien is just about to clear the ball and Alan Mannus is about to pick it up.
“Their player was nowhere near it. We had cover and Lee wasn't the last man. He still shouldn't have fouled. It's a penalty but not a sending off. I thought it was a terrible decision.
“I thought we controlled the game with ten men. We had a few chances but never really did enough to win it.
“We didn't start the game right and when you don't do that you don't win games. We're all the same; players, staff and fans. We all wanted the exact same thing.
“It's not just the fans that are frustrated, everyone is. We've gone out in the first round and it's not good enough.
“But there's nothing we can do about it now so we need to move on and look forward to Friday.”
Bradley brought 15-year-old Sinclair Armstrong off the bench to make his senior debut. There was surprise in some quarters that with Rovers’ extensive senior squad they still needed to bring the young teenager on late on as they chased the game.
However, even with the Hoops' strength in depth in their squad, they have been hit by injuries recently.
“We were missing 12 players when we were training. Dan Carr was injured and Aaron Greene shouldn't have even been on the bench because he was struggling.
“Ethan Boyle trained a little bit today so we'll have to wait and see. Dave McAllister is out for six or seven weeks and we're hoping Luke Byrne is back next week or the week after.”
Having taken the lead on three occasions against the Gypsies this season, the Hoops have allowed Bohs back into the game each time – with Keith Long’s men collecting two wins and a draw.
Hoops supporters will have little patience for something similar on Friday evening. Bradley emphasised he wants to see his side react to last week’s disappointing defeat irrespective that it is Bohs coming to Tallaght.
“We had a bad night on Friday and we got punished. We need to move on and it doesn't matter if it's Bohs or whoever, it's another game and that's what we need after last week.
“You want a game straight away after you've lost to try and put it right. Friday gives us the opportunity to do that.
“We know it's going to be a tough game but it's one we're looking forward to. There's a lot of big fixtures between now and the end of the season. Every Friday between now and then is the same, it's no extra importance.
“You don't get an extra point for winning the game against Bohs. It's a big game but the rest of the remaining games are big.”
Tonight is the final Dublin Derby of the season (live on @eirSport). Can Rovers get their first win of the season over Bohs in Tallaght or will the Gypsies prevail once more?— Extratime.ie (@ExtratimeNews) August 17, 2018
Bohs are looking to make it three wins in a row in the league in Tallaght this Friday after coming into this season having only ever won twice against the Hoops in Tallaght in the league.
With an upswing in their recent form, buoyed by scoring 18 goals in their last four games, at a minimum they will be looking to stretch their unbeaten run against Rovers to five matches.
However if they beat the Hoops for the third time this season, it will give the Gypsies faithful plenty to celebrate as the season moves into the last series of league fixtures for the season.
"It's the Dublin Derby so there's a sense of occasion for supporters but for us as a team the most important thing is getting points and improving our league position,” manager Keith Long told the club's website.
"We want to build on the results we've had and move up the table. We've struggled for consistency this season but we've a good run in the last few weeks and it's important we try continue that and push on."
Bohs, currently seventh in the table, beat both of the bottom teams in recent weeks – 6-0 against Bray and 5-0 against Limerick.
While they also did lose 2-0 in the league to Dundalk, last week they won in the FAI Cup, dismissing a Wexford side who sit second last in the First Division.
They face more formidable opposition in Rovers who are only a point behind third placed Waterford in the table.
"We've played well in recent weeks and we want to able to continue to do that against stronger opposition.
"The most pleasing aspect of those performances was the determination and confidence we showed in our play.
"Rovers are obviously a step up from the opposition we've beaten recently and they had been in good form up until their cup game last week.
“But we're going to Tallaght, positive, confident and determined to do well."
The club have confirmed that the game is all-ticket and the away allocation is sold out.
We're all sold out. Anyone able to help Danny Grant's mammy? He's getting grounded otherwise.https://t.co/DfY8h54fEV— Bohemian FC (@bfcdublin) August 16, 2018
Referee: Neil Doyle
Darragh Leahy got a 99th minute winner for Bohs when they sides last met in Tallaght, inflicting Rovers’ first home defeat of the season.
Rovers have only lost in the league on one other occasion this year in Tallaght.
Some of that additional injury time was came after a delay to the game when Keith Ward broke the cornerflag celebrating Dan Byrne’s goal that cancelled out Dan Carr’s opener for the Hoops.
Bohs have scored six goals against Rovers this season – with each goal scored in the second half of those matches.
Graham Burke remains Rovers' top league scorer with 13 goals while Dan Carr is second with seven.
Shamrock Rovers 4/6; Draw 5/2; Bohemians 4/1.
Shamrock Rovers 1 – 0 Bohemians
Injured: David McAllister, Trevor Clarke.
Doubtful: Aaron Greene, Dan Carr, Ethan Boyle.
Suspended: Lee Grace.
Injured: Ryan Swan.
Doubtful: Rob Cornwall.