Sexton confident Bohs can raid PAOK in Euro rematch

by Dave Donnelly
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UEFA Youth League

Bohemians will travel to Greece with confidence having secured a home draw with PAOK in their UEFA Youth League first leg at Dalymount Park.

Jack Moylan gave the Gypsies the lead after just six minutes but the home side were pegged back almost immediately as Antonios Gaitanidis hit the net.

Dawson Devoy missed a penalty for Bohs during an eventful first half and there were no further goals despite Bohs enjoying the better of the play in the second half.

The concession of an away goal means Bohs will need to score in Thessaloniki later this month, but manager Craig Sexton believes his side have the tools to overcome the professional side.

“Disappointed isn’t a word that I’d use because I think we played really well in the game,” Sexton told the Dublin Gazette.

“We’re frustrated we didn’t finish the game off while we were at home, but they’re a really good team and we performed really well on the night. We’re really happy with that.

“We’ve done really well against them and we’re probably going to face a different challenge than we faced in Dublin. We’ll need to prepare for that. But we’ll be going there with confidence.”

PAOK reached the play-off round of last year’s competition before being knocked out by Tottenham Hotspur, who had Dubliner Troy Parrott in their ranks, so have good pedigree in the competition.

Bohs qualified for the first time last year and were defeated in the first round by Danish side Midtjylland, who beat Manchester United before being eliminated by eventual champions Porto.

While the PAOK squad are all full-time in the Greek club’s academy, all of the Bohs players are amateur. But Sexton feels his side are just as well-prepared for the tie.

“I think they struggled more later in the game, physically. I think we finished the game better.

“We try to replicate a professional environment and give our boys as much contact as we can, even though they have other stuff during the day.

“We try to get as much contact as possible because they need that to bridge the gap.

“They have more contact, potentially, and we need to be more creative with our time with the players, and that was evident on Wednesday night and hopefully will be evident again in Greece.”

The weather in Greece, even in late October, is likely to be warmer than the Irish players are used to and Sexton admits his side might need to alter their tactics to conserve energy.

They need to score at least once, however, so sitting back and soaking up pressure won’t be an option, and Bohs’ possession-based game will be an asset in the heat of Thessaloniki.

“It’s going to be a factor but I don’t think it’s going to be extremely hot. It may affect how we play slightly, but we passed the ball and retained it well in the first leg.

“We need to pass it and we need to show how good we are. We’ll need to manage the game at times and keep possession. We need to score so we’ll need to go after the game a little bit.”

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