Sport Soccer

Thursday 22 February 2018

Kenna hopes possession game can give Saints edge for away leg

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

THE pairing might be the same as last year, but Conor Kenna reckons that it will be all change on the pitch when St Patrick's Athletic renew rivalries with Iceland's IBV Vestmannaeyjar at Richmond Park tonight.

The clubs met at the same stage of last season's Europa League campaign, with the Saints progressing over two legs on a 2-1 aggregate.

But, since then, both sides have changed utterly -- and neither are playing the same system.

The Saints have had a complete makeover since replacing manager Pete Mahon with Liam Buckley, who has revamped their squad with new players.

They now play with a possession-based 4-3-3 formation that has seen them lose just once this season.

But IBV have also seen wholesale changes and Kenna, who missed last year's game through injury, reckons that the changes have rendered the previous meeting as largely irrelevant.

Different

"Its an odd one to be fair," he admitted. "Even though we're playing the same club, they have had a load of changes and we only have one player (Ian Bermingham) who started those games still here.

"We have watched last year's game to see how the lads played against them and we have also watched a game from this season and they play a different formation.

"We'll have to keep it tight and try and win the game, with us being at home first. We were unlucky to be drawn at home first. I'd have hoped to have been drawn away, but we can do a job."

The Saints have a good recent record in the Europa League and its predecessor the UEFA Cup.

This year's squad have emerged as title contenders in the league and are hoping to take their fine form into the continental games.

"We have a bigger squad this year and Liam has brought in a different type of player to the lads who were here last year," Kenna explained.

"The way we play, the way we keep the ball, has helped us defend. Hopefully, the way we play will suit Europe. You have to keep it to do well."

Irish Independent

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