Monday 18 December 2017

'Richmond' factor can help Saints go marching on

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

ST Patrick's Athletic will be hoping David McMillan's away goal will prove key in their mission to march on as many obscure parts of Europe as possible this summer.

Having visited Iceland and Kazakhstan, it's the Ukraine that awaits Pat's if they can overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit in this evening's Europa League second qualifying round second leg against Shakhter Karagandy at Richmond Park.

The hosts will be hoping the unusual surrounds of their compact stadium will unsettle their visitors, who have travelled more than 5,000km to Dublin.

The Kazakhs routinely play in front of crowds of more than 10,000.

The Inchicore venue has claimed some scalps in recent years. Although tonight's visitors are stronger than Icelandic side IBV, who lost there last month, they are not an experienced European outfit.


Pat's boss Pete Mahon welcomes striker Danny North back into his squad, who have been troubled by a bug this week.

But the former UCD boss is hopeful of having his full complement available and believes they can succeed.

"We're very lucky in that everybody is fully fit," he said. "They're raring to go. We know from what we saw over there that they're a very difficult opponent.

"Just as it was in the IBV game we know what we have to do -- we have to win the game and not concede a goal."

Key to victory will be shackling the visitors' 6' 8" defender Nikola Vasiljevic at set-pieces.

The giant Bosnian Serb scored both goals in the first leg, but Mahon reckons the away goal gives his side a chance.

"When you take into consideration what we went through getting to Kazakhstan, the tough game, the hostile atmosphere and that, we have to be happy with the result," he said.

"We're going to change personnel from last week, but probably not the formation.

"What we have to concentrate on doing is keeping the ball better and if we do that we'll have a chance."

St Patrick's Athletic (v Shakhter Karagandy) -- Rogers; Pender, Shortall, E McMillan, Bermingham; Mulcahy, McFaul, Bradley; Kavanagh, Doyle; North.

Irish Independent

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