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Mahon eyes Hoops scalp

ST PATS boss Pete Mahon wants to see his in-form side sneak back into the top three and mount a serious tilt for honours.

Saints supporters watched in misery over the summer as the team's excellent run in Europe coincided with some very poor domestic form, with Pats managing just one win in seven league games in July and August.

But Mahon's men have rediscovered their touch recently with three wins -- and 12 goals scored -- in their last three outings. For Pats, tonight's league game at home to champions Shamrock Rovers couldn't come at a better time, Rovers heading across the city to Inchicore missing at least five and possibly seven first-team regulars due to injury and suspension.

Pats know a win here would see the Saints go level on points with second-placed Rovers.


"This is now our biggest game of the season and we know that if we win we will go level with Rovers which is great at this stage of the year," says Mahon.

"Our main aim over the past few weeks has been to break into the top three and despite our good form we haven't been able to do that.

"Credit must go to the top three for that and we can't forget that Bohs are still right behind us too.

"This is a very important game for us and for them, with Derry now top and Sligo in good form all games are important.

"I hope we can get a big crowd down and that the weather and wind that's predicted stays away because we don't want the game to be spoiled as a spectacle.

"It will be very difficult for us to get back into it if we lose tonight but we're concentrating on winning, getting level with Rovers and hopefully into the top three with six or seven games to go in the championship -- that's where we want to be," added Mahon.

Some of the Rovers camp will have had their focus abroad over the weekend as Rubin Kazan, their Europa League opponents on Thursday, were in action in the Russian league, losing 3-1 to Amkar Perm, while the Hoops had a bad weekend too, losing 2-1 at home to Sligo Rovers.

"It's good for us to have another big game, it'll be a chance for us to re-focus and concentrate on getting back to winning ways," says Hoops boss Michael O'Neill.

"The three points would obviously be the main thing for us, but it would also be good to get a win ahead of Thursday's Europa League game."