Lyttle hopeful Rovers can build momentum as they prepare for St. Patrick’s Athletic
SLIGO Rovers manager Ger Lyttle is hoping that his side can put together a run of form as they head into their final few games of the season.
The Bit O’Red take on Liam Buckley’s St. Patrick’s Athletic this Saturday at The Showgrounds, and Lyttle wants his side to make it three wins in a row as they look to make sure of safety.
Ger Lyttle’s men surprised many by beating Cork City last week, and their victory over Livingston Colts means it was the first time all season they have recorded back to back winners.
“We’ve hit form. We’ve hit form in the league. Take the Dundalk game out, we’ve won a good few games on the road and it’s important that we keep building momentum. We have six league games left this season plus this cup. I’d love to win all six, we don’t go out to lose games. We’ll go out and give it our best shot and prepare as best we possibly can,” said Lyttle.
The Irn Bru Cup victory over Livingston came at a good time for Rovers, as they have had to plan around a very stop/ start schedule once again.
“It’s like last season with that big break. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to and we’ve obviously touched a wee bit of luck getting into the competition but we wanted to make the most out of it.
“It’s great for us, rather than having a free weekend, there’s nothing worse as a club or a team to be sitting doing nothing so we’ll make the most of it. It gives us a wee bit of momentum as well which is important going into the St. Pats game.
“Winning in Cork and winning tonight, winning becomes a habit and it’s important that we continue to do that.”
Saturday’s victory was an important one, he felt, as Rovers’ home form has been so poor this season.
“It was important as well because our home form has not been good enough. Tonight it felt like we took the away performances into a home performance. It was really important to go and put a bit of a show on for the home fans. Also it was our first back-to-back win this season which is important too. Really pleased with the attitude, really pleased with the performances of late and also really pleased that we were able to get more young lads on. All in all it was a real positive performance and result.”
Rovers might not have started the game in the best manner, but their response to going behind so early pleased Lyttle.
“I said to the boys at half-time that we were a bit too casual at times, on the ball, I don’t know whether it’s a confidence thing or not. It’s alright being casual in the final third but definitely not in our own defensive third. It was a lesson.
“Obviously we recovered well in getting the goal quick enough afterwards and we were able to settle a wee bit. In the first half as well they were aggressive, they showed why they’re in this round of the cup.
“I thought the second half we took it up a few gears and we were able to play some good attacking football and obviously we were more clinical.”
The former Cliftonville boss praised the hard work of striker Mikey Drennan, whose hat-trick saw Rovers through to the next round of the cup.
It’s been difficult at times for the former Aston Villa man, but Lyttle praised his work-rate.
“He’s been working brilliantly in training and in games. Sometimes it’s a thankless job he does, especially last week against Cork. He was up top on his own and he was fighting for everything, and he was disappointed coming off that he didn’t get any chances. He works all day and he moves and he makes great runs, sometimes we pick him out and sometimes we don’t. I’m just delighted that tonight he’s hit the target.”
With Rovers not faring so well in domestic cup competitions this year, Lyttle stressed the importance of getting through at least one round of the Irn Bru Cup. The draw for the next round is due to take place today (Tuesday).
“I want to win every game. Whether it’s Irn Bru Cup or whatever, we’re disappointed with our cups this year, domestically. It’s something that we always want to try and achieve. This club loves cup competitions and it’s important that we were able to get through this round.
“It was a difficult one to prepare for because we didn’t know an awful lot about the team. We tried to get as much information as possible and to be fair Willie McStay and one of his contacts helped us out.
“That team there, I think nine of them were in the starting line-up against Forfar (in the last round of the Irn Bru Cup) so they were decent. We were different class especially in the second half.”
He added: “The bookies made us big favourites but you know, Cork were big favourites last week and they didn’t win.
“Football is a funny old game and it was just important that we were professional tonight and we worked hard and we didn’t get sloppy and we didn’t go out there expecting to win the game.
When you see the first goal going in you’re like ‘Jesus here we go again’ but we recovered really well.
“Fair play to the lads, the workrate has been really great and not just in games but during the week. We don’t want the season to just potter out and play for nothing.
“It’s important that lads out there are playing, they’re playing for their futures as well and young lads are playing to try and get into the team and establish themselves.”
Cameron Blues and Adam Wixted.