St Patrick’s Athletic will be aiming to progress to the third qualifying round of the Europa League when they take on NK Siroki Brijeg at Richmond Park tonight, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Saints are unbeaten in their last ten European matches at Richmond Park, and go in search of their fifth consecutive win in European competition at the Inchicore venue.
Liam Buckley’s side will take a valuable away goal into tonight’s clash after drawing 1-1 away in Siroki Brijeg.
And they were unlucky not to record an away victory as St Pat’s conceded a last-minute equaliser in the first leg in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
With Mark Rossiter set to miss out on the rest of the season through a knee injury, Stephen O’Flynn is the only injury worry ahead of Thursday’s game with a muscle injury.
Manager Buckley said: “I thought we played well last week and were terribly unfortunate not to come away with a win. I certainly didn’t see them scoring, especially with a few seconds left when they did eventually equalise."
He added: "And that was after we’d missed a penalty and two or three good chances, including hitting the post.
“At 1-1 the game is back in the mix. They had 10 men for most of last week, so they struggled for large parts of the game. However, I’ve no doubt that they see themselves getting through the tie, so it’s going to be a helter-skelter game with a lot at stake for both clubs.
“If we perform like we did last week, we’ll be right in the tie. We have the away goal and a good defensive record this year." - Liam Buckley
"A clean sheet and we’re through. So hopefully we can get through and play Hannover 96 next week.”
For the visitors, skipper and former Bosnia and Herzegovina international Dalibor Silic returns from suspension, while defender Mladen Jurcevic serves a one-match ban having been sent off for two bookable offences last week.
Saints’ goalkeeper Brendan Clarke can set a club record of five consecutive clean sheets at Richmond Park in European competition if he can keep Siroki Brijeg scoreless tonight.
Despite the disappointment of the injury-time equaliser to Brazilian midfielder Wagner last week, Clarke remains confident that the Saints can deal with the aerial threat posed by the opposition and progress.
Clarke commented on the St Patrick’s Athletic website: “They’re a big team. We knew that going into the first game. We just need to stop crosses coming in and make sure we don’t give away silly corners or free-kicks.”