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Sligo Rovers treating Viking visit as a fresh start as they bid to make most of ‘relentless’ campaign

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Max Mata produced a star performance on Sunday, scoring two goals in three minutes as Sligo came from behind to defeat Bohemians 2-1. Photo: Sportsfile

Max Mata produced a star performance on Sunday, scoring two goals in three minutes as Sligo came from behind to defeat Bohemians 2-1. Photo: Sportsfile

Max Mata produced a star performance on Sunday, scoring two goals in three minutes as Sligo came from behind to defeat Bohemians 2-1. Photo: Sportsfile

Sligo Rovers forward Max Mata hopes his side can become European regulars in seasons to come as their “relentless” Conference League campaign looks set to end tonight.

The Bit O’Red welcome Norwegian outfit Viking to the Showgrounds this evening (7.0) and trail 5-1 from last Thursday’s first leg of their third-round tie.

John Russell’s side have pocketed €850,000 after progressing through two rounds (Bala Town and Motherwell) for the first time.  

Mata admitted the past six weeks have been taxing but insists they have put the 5-1 drubbing to bed and will approach tonight’s clash as a fresh start.

“Everybody is tired,” said the 22-year-old ahead of the sold-out second leg. “We want to be involved in these European matches, so that comes with it. We’ve got to treat tonight as though it’s the first game and there’s no aggregate scoreline.”

The New Zealander also revealed his family have been keeping a close eye on his European exploits from afar, seeing him find the net in the previous two rounds.

“Family and close friends, definitely. I’m sure there’s others back home, but maybe they’re not waking up at 4am to watch it,” he laughed.

The forward produced a star performance on Sunday, scoring two goals in three minutes as Sligo came from behind to defeat Bohemians 2-1.

The Phibsboro outfit were hoping to take advantage of a possible European hangover, after Sligo’s recent losses to UCD and Wexford at the Showgrounds, but Mata’s impressive brace lifted his side to within one point of fourth place.

“We want European football again next season, so every single game is massive for us,” said Mata, as Sligo aim to qualify for Europe for the third season running.

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“There are a lot of tired bodies. But at the end of the day, if you don’t dig deep we won’t have the opportunity again. It’s been a very quick six weeks.

“It’s quite nice walking around and hearing people say ‘well done’, it’s a good feeling. The people do get behind us and they give us a massive push.”

Tonight’s clash with Viking will be followed by a trip to the capital on Sunday to face fourth-placed St Patrick’s Athletic – a win at Richmond Park would lift the Bit O’Red into the European places.

Mata admitted fixtures coming thick and fast can be a challenge.

“It’s difficult, but it is what it is,” Mata, who has eight goals to his name this season, added. “You take it as it comes and learn how to deal with it.”  

Sligo Rovers v Viking

Live, LOI TV, 7.0


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