By Conall Collier
The first of three big games over the next three weekends at the Showgrounds for Sligo Rovers starts with the visit of a Bohemian FC team on Saturday, kick-off 5pm.
Bohs currently sit in fifth position in the league, 16 points adrift of Women’s Premier Division (WPD) leaders Peamount United.
After Saturday’s encounter Bohemian FC will have three fixtures remaining against Wexford, Shelbourne and Treaty United and will be aiming to finish the season on a positive note, starting with this encounter in Sligo.
From that perspective, they will view this as a must-win game if a top four finish is to be achieved, but they will also want to make amends for the FAI Cup quarter-final reversal a fortnight ago.
Contrast that to the WPD form that Sligo Rovers take into this game – one victory and a draw from 15 outings has the Bit O’Red anchored in 10th place, two points ahead of Cork City and four points adrift of the Limerick side.
Similar statistics were applicable two weeks ago when Sligo Rovers travelled to Dalymount Park for that FAI Cup quarter-final against Bohemian FC and produced the shock-of-the-round with a sensational 1-0 victory to earn a place in the last four.
Buoyed by what was a thoroughly merited victory at the Phibsboro’ venue, Sligo Rovers will approach this encounter with an expectation that the team can put some much-needed points on the board.
Add into the mix that Cork City will visit the Showgrounds next weekend and then it will be the turn of Athlone Town for a FAI Cup semi-final showdown, plenty of reasons for the players to deliver a match-winning performance.
On that basis, Bohemian FC can expect another stern test as the Bit O’Red players will have set a goal of two wins ahead of that FAI Cup semi-final, but the attention for now will be focused solely on picking up three points.
On the last visit to the Showgrounds, Bohemian FC recorded a 3-1 Avenir Sports Cup victory in June, but it was a bizarre type of contest with a brace of first-half own goals boosting the Dublin women to a 2-0 interval lead.
Niamh Prior added a third goal early in the second-half to leave it comfortable for Bohemian FC, but the hosts were eventually rewarded on the scoreboard when Casey Howe converted a late penalty.
That victory made it six wins out of six for Bohemian FC against Sligo Rovers, but the Bit O’Red made a serious statement of intent with that 1-0 FAI Cup quarter-final success.
The sides went in scoreless at the interval at Dalymount after the Bit O’Red dominated the opening 45 minutes as Emma Doherty, Sarah Kiernan and Emma Hansberry all had chances, but it wasn’t all one-way traffic.
Sligo Rovers ‘keeper Bonnie McKiernan produced a flying save that denied Rachel Doyle for the hosts.
Steve Feeney’s side started the second-half on the front foot with Hansberry, Boles and Doherty all going close before the hosts had a chance from Lynn Craven.
The all-important goal arrived 13 minutes from time when Jodie Loughrey’s shot deflected to the net off Emma Hansberry, but the Dublin women had a chance soon after that was narrowly wide.
Central to the victory for Sligo Rovers was a solid defensive performance with Lauren Boles dictating a lot of the play, but another tight encounter is anticipated.
Kick-off at the Showgrounds is at 5pm. Tickets are available at turnstiles and the game is also on LOITV.