Buckley urges his Pat's to seize their Euro moment
Precious away goal has Saints in good position, writes Cian Tracey
St Pat's have been down this road before and while they may have sometimes struggled to build on a positive first-leg result, Liam Buckley is hoping that there is enough experience within his side to ensure that they do so this evening (7.45).
Christy Fagan's stunning equalising strike against Dinamo Minsk last week means that the Belarusian outfit arrive in Richmond Park needing to score to have any hope of avoiding what would be a major upset.
The Saints' league form has been inconsistent to say the least but, as captain Ger O'Brien noted yesterday, they have been playing with a renewed sense of freedom in Europe.
Two years ago, Fagan's away goal against Legia Warsaw had earned Pat's a similar 1-1 draw but a 5-0 thrashing followed at home a week later.
Buckley is only too aware that his side go into the vital clash as underdogs but Minsk have had recent problems of their own.
Since last Thursday's game against Pat's, Minsk, who have played in the group stages of the Europa League for the last two seasons, sacked their manager Vuk Rasovic and replaced him with Sergei Borovsky.
The former USSR defender guided fellow Belarusian side Shakhytor Soligursk to a resounding 6-1 aggregate win over Derry City two years ago.
All may not be well in the Minsk camp but Buckley admitted that he would be preparing his players in a similar manner to last week.
"It's a tricky situation," he said of the difficulties in not knowing if Minsk will change their set-up under the new manager.
"We really don't know if they'll play any differently. The sporting director (Borovsky) did sign one of two players himself.
"We'll have a good idea of their starting XI but whether or not they'll change the shape, we won't know.
"There's not a huge amount you can do in a week though so we'll be preparing for something similar as last week.
"It will be an extremely difficult tie here and we won't be looking to change a huge amount in how we played last week.
"If you go and press and press, they can tiki-taka you all over the place and you'll end up getting turfed out. We've got to be patient.
"They have to score. They have try and win the game. A 0-0 draw will do us, not that we'll be playing for that because we'll be looking for trouble if we did.
"Patience is the key. They'll be happy to play it around at the back.
"They have changed managers since our game but that said, if they play anything like they did last week, they won't be afraid to keep their foot on the ball.
"We need to be organised like last week and, in fairness, we gave away very few chances over there."
Pat's have a fully-fit squad to choose from and should they pull off what would be a famous result and advance to the third qualifying round (to face Welsh side Connah's Quay or Serbia's FK Vojvodina) they stand to win another €220,000 to add to €410,000 they have already won for getting this far.
While the financial incentive for the club is obvious, Buckley is urging his players to relish the occasion.
"To get through these ties, okay it's important for the club from the financial side, we all know that, but for the players personally, trust me, in 10, 15 or 20 years' time when they retire, they'll remember the occasions like this," he insisted.
"We've gotten through teams from Luxembourg, Iceland, Bosnia.
"Okay we were beaten by Hannover 96 but they're not a bad team, are they? The same can be said for Legia Warsaw.
"They are all big, exciting games to be involved in and the one thing that I try to express to the players is, 'Don't let it pass you by'.
"I think a few years back when we were in the first Cup final against Derry, it passed us by. The second one didn't, we were all at it.
"When we have possession of the ball, we need to retain it and play with it.
"We're not going to be settling for a draw. We want to affect the game in a positive manner," Buckley added.
"We need to make sure we turn up and don't let it pass us by."
Pat's have let the moment pass them by in the past - now is their chance to seize it.