Stevens: Title hopes very much alive
“It isn’t over” is the message from Sligo Rovers assistant manager Gary Stevens after the Bit o’ Red’s made ground on the Airtricity Premier Division leaders after a 2-0 win over Bohemians in Dalymount Park on Saturday night.
Rovers closed to within five points of the top of the table with six games to go after the victory in North Dublin.
Joint-top sides St Patrick’s Athletic and Dundalk will clash in the next series of games while Rovers travel to UCD, knowing that a win would guarantee making further ground on at least one team whatever the result in Richmond Park.
Stevens said “Going to Bohs on a difficult night with a swirling wind and with Owen Heary having his players working hard, it is a difficult task. They are organised, disciplined and a tough side to play against at the moment.
“We were very pleased with three points. The first thing you have to do is at least match your opponent for endeavour, effort, honest and commitment. That has to be done and then you trust you have more quality in your team than them. You can move the ball and pass the ball better than them and be more creative and do the ultimate thing which is put the ball in the back of the net.
“Too many people in the world of football judge the here and now. If you win a game you're great, if you get beaten or draw you're not good enough. If you win your first eight games of course you're going to win the league. When you fall behind the top two teams which are currently Dundalk and St Pat's, of course you've lost the league. It is never over until it is over. You have to keep going and keep believing. As long as you do that, you're in with a chance.”
The Rovers management team made four changes for the game with Bohs, factoring knocks and a busy period for the club.
Danny Ventre, Iarfhlaith Davoren, Anthony Elding and David McMillan came into the side and played a part in the securing the three points.
It gives manager Ian Baraclough and Stevens much to ponder ahead of this Sunday’s FAI Cup quarter-final with Derry City in The Showgrounds.
“We believe we have a strong squad, we believe we have players that when it is right for them to come in, they can do a very good job for us,” stated the Rovers number two.
“We have just played three games in seven to eight days and that is a demanding schedule as well. We felt it was right to ring the changes.
“You need competition, it is healthy to have that in a squad and we have that here at Sligo Rovers. We also have players that are professional enough to realise if for example we're not selected for any given game then there is a reason for it.
“Players who haven't played as much, it gave them an opportunity to play and I believe we got it right because we won.”