- Wednesday July 10th, 2013 @ 20:35
Pats Vs Žalgiris Preview
Saint Patrick’s Athletic face VMFD Žalgiris this Thursday in Inchicore as they aim to progress to the second qualifying round of the Europa League against their Lithuanian opponents.
The Saints go into the tie on the back of a 2-2 draw in Vilnius last week which saw Liam Buckley’s side fight back after the Lithuanian league leaders had twice taken the lead.
Away goals from Conan Byrne and Ger O’Brien sees the Saints in a good position as they aim to continue their impressive European run in Richmond Park which sees the Inchicore side unbeaten in their last 11 games.
Ahead of Thursday’s second leg, Saints’ manager Liam Buckley stressed that Žalgiris were a strong outfit and his side would have to perform well to defeat Marek Zub’s side.
“Žalgiris are a very good side and the player’s would back that up having played them in their home ground last week,” Buckley told stpatsfc.com.
“They are a good side along the lines of Široki Brijeg who we played last year.
That was also a draw in the first leg and we found the second leg to be tough so we know that this return game against Žalgiris will also be a real challenge.
But from our end of things, we’ve been working well this week in training so we’re hopeful we can get through.”
Buckley spoke of the great support that both the players and management had received to date this season and on the recent trip to Vilnius and he expressed his hope that another big Saints’ crowd would turn up again in Inchicore on Thursday evening.
“The players have really been boosted by our support this year and I can tell you that they really appreciated the support they got in the first leg.”
“Richmond is a really special place on European nights and can really be a big advantage to us on Thursday if the crowd get behind us on the night.
Fingers crossed we’ll see big numbers turn up for the game and we can give the supporters something to shout about.”
Buckley confirmed that he had a full squad to select from, meaning that Philly Hughes could make a home début having recently signed from Shelbourne, while Ian Bermingham can become the Saints’ all time record appearance holder in European competition if selected.
For Saints’ defender Ger O’Brien, the scorer of the 86th minute equaliser in last week’s game, Thursday is another big night for the Saints squad.
When asked about his memorable 25 yard goal, his first ever goal for the Saints, O’Brien spoke of his delight with the strike though admitted that it would count for nothing if the Saints failed to progress past Žalgiris.
“Yeah it was great to score at that time in the game. It’s something that hopefully I can look back on in years to come and be proud of, but that is dependent on the result of the tie.
If we lose and don’t go through, it’ll mean little.
We know what we have to do on Thursday and we’ve been prepared by Liam and the rest of the coaching staff so we’ll be hoping that we can play our game and get through to the next round.”
Tickets for Thursday’s game are available from the St Pat’s office and at Richmond Park before the 7.45pm kick-off.
Tickets are priced €15 for adults, €10 for OAP’S/Students (ID required) and €5 for children U12.