Lilywhites take on St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park on Friday night seeking to get back to winning ways
Stephen O’Donnell defended his side’s away record following defeat to Drogheda United at Head in the Game Park on Friday night.
For the second time this season Dean Williams scored the only goal on Boyneside to give Kevin Doherty’s side the edge in the Louth derby.
While Friday’s defeat was just the third of the season for Dundalk following another 1-0 loss away to Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght in April, the club’s fortunes on their travels are in complete contrast when compared to their form at Oriel Park.
At home, Dundalk have taken 29 out of a possible 33 points so far this season but, on the road, they have won just twice – away to Derry City and Finn Harps – with six draws on top of those three defeats.
The Lilywhites have failed to find the net in six of their 11 away games to date, with just eight goals scored away from home – half of which have been converted by top-scorer Patrick Hoban, who wasn’t fit to start Friday’s game.
While O’Donnell admitted the defeat to Drogheda was disappointing, he said he felt his side had the opportunity to take something from the game.
“There's no getting away from it,” he said.
“It's the second time we've come here and they have been similar nights. We had plenty of possession, we got into enough good areas but we just couldn't convert so it's very disappointing in that regard.
“I thought we got in enough good areas, as I said, but we just weren't clinical enough or didn't capitalise on them so I didn't think it was an absolutely condensed solid rear action. I thought there were spaces there to exploit but we just didn't produce enough on the night to get back into it. I felt if we got one we would go on and win the game but it never materialised.
“Unfortunately, Colin McCabe didn't really have a save to make. Like I say, we got in plenty of good areas but it just didn't drop to us. We just have to be better in the final third.”
While defeat on Boyneside in the first of Dundalk’s two games in-hand over Shamrock Rovers was a missed opportunity to close the gap at the top to seven points, O’Donnell said it was important to put the defeat behind them ahead of this week’s trip to face his old club St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
“Any time you lose it's a missed opportunity,” said the 36-year-old.
“We're disappointed, of course we are, but we've had more good nights than bad nights this season so I'm not going to be too critical with regards the players etc. It's disappointing, there's no other way of dressing it up. They're all disappointed in there but we'll recover well and we'll go again next week.
“We are what we are. We're in a building process. Nothing has changed in that regard. I knew where we were before the kick-off and I know where we are after the game. Nothing has changed in that regard. The lads are all really good and really, really dedicated boys. They give their all and that hasn't changed after tonight. That's what it is.
“Ideally, we'd want to be as dominant away from home as we are at home. Hopefully that will come in time. It's not there yet but we'll keep endeavouring for it to be there.”
O’Donnell said his side were still on target to achieve their goals despite the setback of Friday’s defeat.
“Well where do we want to be?,” he said, when asked if the away record was good enough to meet the club’s ambitions.
“Let's not get ahead of ourselves either. We had two players signed in the middle of December. We had no squad. All right the players have been brilliant but let's not go miles ahead.
“We're second in the league. Would you have taken that after 22 games? I think everyone would have but we're still a work in progress and we're still developing so there are going to be bumps along the way, like I said at the start of the season.
“Without going into the finer details it's a disappointing night and that's it. We're going to have them. It's our third defeat in 22 but we're going to have setbacks throughout the season. The players have been brilliant but we just have to recover well over the weekend and go again next week.”
Asked was there extra significance on Friday’s trip to Richmond Park given St Pat’s are European contenders like Dundalk, O’Donnell added: “They're all big ones and they're all important. Tonight was important. Next week is important and they're all going to be important from here on in.”