ST PAT'S defender Ger O'Brien admits that his side can only hope for an unlikely collapse by Sligo Rovers as the League of Ireland title race enters the last month.
The weekend saw Sligo triumph 4-1 at home to Derry City on Saturday night, 24 hours after Pats and fellow title hopefuls Drogheda United effectively knocked each other out of contention with a 0-0 draw.
So Sligo remain eight points clear with four games to go, and Sligo supporters will keep an eye on tonight's games - Pats host an in-form UCD while Drogheda are at home to Shelbourne - and then get their calculators out to see just when a title success can be confirmed for the Connacht club.
Should Pats and Drogheda both lose tonight, Sligo could even secure their first league in 35 years next Friday if they win away to Cork City, and experienced Saints defender O'Brien fears his side can only triumph if the leaders falter.
"We are waiting for a slip-up from Sligo," says the former Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians man.
"If they win their remaining games they'll be league champions, it's as simple as that. All we can do is make them work that bit harder for it, we have to go and win our game at home to UCD tonight, at least put some more pressure on Sligo and force them to keep winning their matches.
"In fairness to Sligo they are a really good side, they're unbeaten in 14 games in what is a very tough league so all credit to them.
"We handed them an advantage by only getting a draw against Drogheda on Friday and Sligo then went out and won at home to Derry on Saturday, a tough game for them as it was a local derby.
"Sligo have been relentless and have showed no signs of slipping up, we just have to try and get 12 points from the last four games and keep up the pressure," added O'Brien.
Saints boss Liam Buckley bemoaned their lack of a cutting edge up front after Friday's 0-0 draw in Drogheda, and it's significant that their leading scorer (Chris Fagan) has only 10 goals and Pats supporters can only yearn for a free-scoring forward along the lines of Mark Ennis, Ricky O'Flaherty or Trevor Molloy.
"We can't blame our strikers as the rest of the team haven't come up with enough goals," says O'Brien.
"You look at Sligo, when they lost Danny North to injury they didn't collapse, the rest of the team contributed goals. Their centre halves have scored a fair few and they get goals from midfield but we haven't done that, it's something that needs to be addressed for next season."
Up against Buckley's side tonight are one of the most in-form teams in the league as UCD have picked up 10 points from their last four games.
"UCD are a very good side and have come up with some great results in the last few weeks but tonight has to be about us, not them, we have to go and win the game," stressed O'Brien.
Buckley is forced to make changes tonight with three first-teamers suspended and doubts over key men like Chris Fagan and Conor Kenna, so fringe players like Dean Kelly, Stephen O'Flynn and Anto Flood could be pressed into action.