Buckley bullish about St Pat's chances
IBV (0) v St Patrick’s Ath (1):EUROPEAN FOOTBALL is the true barometer for Airtricity League clubs and Liam Buckley is backing his St Patrick’s Athletic side to pass their Icelandic litmus test tonight.
After arriving on the volcanic island of Vestmannaeyjar, off the south coast of Iceland, the Saints wasted little time in preparing for the second leg of their Europa League first qualifying round tie with IBV.
Following a training session on the rocky pitch at the Hasteinsvollur stadium, manager Buckley spoke in positive tones about his team’s chances of not only getting through the game but winning it.
The Dublin club hold a one-goal advantage, courtesy of Chris Fagan’s neat finish seven days ago, and with only two players missing – Mark Rossiter and Dean Kelly – confidence is high in their camp.
Having knocked the same team out of this competition last year (albeit under Pete Mahon), the Inchicore outfit are aiming to repeat the trick and set up a clash with Siroki Brijeg from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It is the Saints’ recent form – which saw them secure a late draw against Shamrock Rovers on Sunday – that has Buckley upbeat about his players finishing off the job tonight.
“If we apply ourselves, we should be able to get through the tie. I expect it to be a tight game and for them to set up differently than how they did in the first leg,” said Buckley.
“They have to come out and try to score, which should make it a very open game. But we are very good defensively and we always create plenty of chances so I would back us to score a goal.
“If we do manage to get a bit of luck and score over there then that puts them under a lot of pressure. I think we are capable of getting a result and getting through the tie.”
A quarter-final exit from the Icelandic Cup, coupled with injuries to several players, has made rescuing this tie a huge task for IBV and the Saints believe they can be their bogey team for a second successive year.
IBV (Probable):A Dhaira; G Baldock, B Gudjonsson, R Christiansen, M Garner; I Jeffs, G Thorarinsson, T Valdimarsson, V Thorvardarson; T Gudmundsson, E Birgisson.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC (Probable):B Clarke; G O’Brien, C Kenna, K Browne, I Bermingham; J Russell, J Chambers, G Bolger; D Meenan, C Fagan, S O’Connor.
Referee:Aleksandrs Anufrijevs (Latvia).