“The whole team will have to work their socks off”- Clifford

By Stephen Leonard

CONOR Clifford has stressed the importance of keeping a clean sheet at home if St Patrick’s Athletic are to have a good chance of despatching IFK Norrkoping and reaching the UEFA Europa League second round qualifiers.

The Inchicore side welcome their Swedish opponents to Richmond Park tonight hoping to dig out a favourable result, although Clifford is under no illusion as to the difficulty of this task.

St Patricks Athletics Conor Clifford 1

Conor Clifford

“It’s going to be a tough match, but hopefully we don’t let them score and we nick a goal or two” said the St Pat’s midfielder.

“I think our defence is good enough to keep them out, but it’s not just down to the back four. The whole team will have to work their socks off as a unit to keep a clean sheet and hopefully take a result over there.

“Hopefully we get a packed crowd there on Thursday night and there’s a great atmosphere.

“Everyone is looking forward to the match. For myself and for a number of other players, it’s our first time to be involved in Europe, in the Europa League.

“There are players like Brendan Clarke and Ian Bermingham who have been there before, but for us it’s our first taste of it, so it’s very exciting. There’s a real buzz about the camp” he told The Echo.

St Pat’s will be coming into this match off the back of a most important 2-1 victory away to Waterford in the Airtricity League last Friday.

Harry Kenny’s men battled back from a goal down against their hosts with the help of a stunning strike by Clifford and a 62nd minute winner by Dean Clarke.

The win saw them move up to fourth in the Premier Division albeit having played two games more than Derry City in fifth.

“It was a great win for us” said Clifford. “Waterford had beaten us twice and beaten us well so we were fired up going down there.

“We’re also looking to catch Bohs [in third] so it was important we got those points and to score was great. When you catch a ball as sweetly as that it’s a brilliant feeling. I was buzzing after that.

“It was also important that we got the win to have that bit of momentum coming into the Europa League match. You don’t want to be coming into that on a defeat.

“We’ve had some good wins recently and even in that [0-2] loss to Shamrock Rovers we had some half decent spells, but it was just the timing of their goals before and after the break that really knocked the stuffing out of us” he explained.

Pat’s have enjoyed a decent run of form in recent weeks, winning three of their last four matches and will be hoping to chalk up another big one tonight.

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