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Shel-shocked Saints have to be sharper: Clarke

THE Saints will have to stop sinning in front of goal if they are to finally end their FAI Cup hoodoo, according to St Patrick's Athletic keeper Brendan Clarke.

The Premier Division champions are in action tonight, away to Shelbourne in an FAI Ford Cup third round replay (8pm) after Friday's match at Richmond Park left the Dublin rivals tied at 1-1.

Pats had a dream start with a third-minute goal but the lead lasted for only eight minutes before Shels equalised and despite owning the ball for long periods, the Saints were unable to put away their opportunities.

"We had a lot of chances in Friday's game and on another night we could have won 6-1 but we didn't put them away," says Clarke.

"It seems to be one of those seasons for us in that respect, we didn't finish our chances and we got punished with the goal that Shels got against us.

"That's been our story so often, creating chances and not scoring them while conceding silly goals so we have to get back to the basics.

"But as Liam Buckley keeps telling us, it is what it is. We are still in the FAI Cup and have a good chance of going through."

Given their league form - two defeats in the last three games - the title is now out of reach for Pats, adding extra significance to the FAI Cup

"Realistically this is the only trophy we can win this season, in terms of the league we are trying to catch Cork City for second place, it would be very hard to see Dundalk throwing away their lead now, so the Cup is a big deal for us," added Clarke.