Gaynor “Loves” Sight of Sligo // 50th Milestone
Ross Gaynor is set for his 50th start for Dundalk against his favourite side to score against, Sligo Rovers, when they go head-to-head at Oriel Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm). The 23-year-old winger has netted four times in five appearances against the Bit O’ Red in the last 17 months, a third of his tally in that period, and he admits that he “loves” playing against the Connaught club. And the Ardee-born star has told of his desire to remain at the border venue for a “long time”, stating “I don’t want to go anywhere”.
Looking ahead to the game, Gaynor told dundalkfc.com: “I love playing against Sligo. It’s not that they’re weak. I think everyone plays an extra ten percent against the better teams. Obviously, I’ve had a bit of luck against Sligo and hopefully that will continue on Friday. These are the games that you like to play in, two teams that can play ball. It will be a very interesting game. We’ll go at it from the start and they’ll probably do exactly the same and try to bounce back from their game on Monday. We’re obviously trying to bounce back from Friday, so both teams need a good result. I think you’ll see a very good game of football on Friday.
“It has absolutely flown,” Ross added, with Friday set to see him make his 52nd appearance for the club since joining in February 2010. “I have never stayed at a club for more than 20 or 30 games. It’s an honour and hopefully I can get another 50. I don’t want to go anywhere. I love this place. I’ll definitely be staying for a long time.” Dundalk go into the game on the back of last week’s disappointing 2-0 defeat by Derry City at The Brandywell. “In the first half hour I thought we were, not on top, but content,” Gaynor said of the performance at the Ulster venue. “We absorbed some of their pressure, and we pressured them a little ourselves. Goals change games, and once they scored, they got the next goal very quickly, so we were more or less out of the game at half-time.
“In the second half we never looked like penetrating enough to get a goal,” he added. “We had a couple of half chances, nothing major. That was the disappointing thing; we didn’t get enough balls out wide to put balls in the box for Jay (Byrne). Coming from me and Danny (Kearns), I thought it was disappointing we didn’t get enough crosses. We let Derry play in certain areas and we gave them too much respect at times. We are a counterattacking side and they didn’t let us do that too much. It wasn’t a good performance. But we’ll put that behind us and look towards Friday’s game.”
Looking for luck
However, with a 100 percent record on the road in the Setanta Sports Cup, Gaynor is not overly worried by his side’s away form in the league, after losing their opening three trips. “Not really, because we’ve been unlucky in the other two,” he said. “It was only the Derry game that we were outplayed. Look at Rovers, we played well for most of the game, and then at St. Pat’s we should have won the game, easily. It’s not like we haven’t been playing well. I’m hearing things that we aren’t playing the way we used to play. We’re playing good football. It’s just the bit of luck that we need to finish out games hasn’t been there.”
Dundalk follow up the visit of Sligo with the second leg of their Setanta Sports Cup semi-final tie against Cliftonville at Oriel Park on Monday night. “I think every game we’ve played in the Setanta Cup we have treated like a final,” Gaynor said, looking ahead to a tie which his side hold a 3-1 advantage in. “We’re going to go out with the same attitude on Monday, and if we can get a win or a draw, or we can even afford to lose by one, we’re in the final. Everyone is buzzing for the game. It’s a very important weekend, probably the most important I’ve had in my football career.” Speaking on his own form, the 23-year-old said: “I’m happy. I think me and the boys are doing well; we’re scoring goals and creating goals and I think we’re playing good football. I think it’s just the luck isn’t there, so hopefully we can start to get a bit.”
The two games this weekend will be the first of eight games in a 24-day period for Ian Foster’s side. But Gaynor insists: “That’s what you love about football; you have a game around the corner. If a game goes bad you have another one nearly straight away so you can bounce back. But if you can get a run going; if we have a good result on Friday and another one on Monday, that’s two, and maybe you can turn two into eight. We’re looking forward to it.” The Lilywhites currently lie seventh in the Premier Division, but Gaynor pointed to last year’s start as evidence that it is too early to draw any conclusions. “It’s too early,” he said. “Look at us last year, we were top and we finished sixth, so hopefully this year we will finish stronger. A couple of wins can put you well up the table. Nobody is winning every week or taking the league by the scruff of the neck yet, so I think we have as good a chance as anybody.”
Quick-fire Stat Attack on…Ross Gaynor…
– Ross Gaynor joined Dundalk on a one-year deal on Tuesday 9 February 2010
– Fifteen days later, he made his competitive debut and scored against Ballymun United in the Leinster Senior Cup, the first goal of Ian Foster’s reign
– He made his league debut when playing the full 90 minutes of the opening-day win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds on 5 March
– Ross scored his first league goal a month later, netting the first in a late comeback against Sligo at The Showgrounds on 5 April
– He made his 25th appearance for the club in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie against Levski Sofia, at the Georgi Asparuhov Stadium on 15 July
– His 25th league appearance came at home to Bray on 3 September
– Gaynor signed a fresh one-year contract at Oriel Park on 8 October
– 24 hours later, he scored his first double for the club, in a 4-2 defeat by Sligo at Oriel Park
– He scored his first goal of 2011 at home to Linfield in the Setanta Sports Cup first round second leg at Oriel Park on 28 February
– His tenth goal for the club came in the same competition, at home to Glentoran on 21 March
– The Setanta Sports Cup was also the stage for Gaynor’s 50th appearance in all competitions for the Lilywhites, against Cliftonville at Solitude on 4 April
– Broken down, his 11 goals for Dundalk have been scored against: 3 Sligo Rovers, 2 Drogheda United, 1 Ballymun United, Galway United, Saint Patrick’s Athletic, Linfield, Glentoran and UCD
– Interestingly, Gaynor’s only goal of the 2009 Premier Division season, when at Drogheda United, was scored against…Sligo.