Dundalk striker Pat Hoban has admitted he is frustrated with his goal return so far this season but is hopeful of taking that anger out on Finn Harps’ defence on Saturday night.
The 27-year-old’s penalty against Sligo Rovers on Friday was his 11th league goal of the season. That’s enough to see him lead the SSE Airtricity League goalscoring charts by four from Bohs’ Dinny Corcoran and Waterford’s Aaron Drinan.
It’s also the same return he had after 19 matches of last season. Yet the fact that seven of his goals have come from the penalty spot is bugging the Loughrea native.
He admits that has led to doubts creeping in at times but told The Argus after Friday night’s win that he is happy with where his game is overall.
Reacting to what was the 50th goal of his career at Oriel Park, Hoban said: “It’s another mini-landmark.
“I’m still a small bit frustrated that I’m not getting the chances I used to get in terms of goals from play but the penalties have to be put away too. We’ve been getting a lot of penalties this year but they’ve been crucial penalties too. I’m just happy to have scored again tonight.”
When it was put to him that his goal return was the same as this time last year when he went on to hit a Premier Division record 29 league goals, Hoban said: “It’s frustrating because I feel like I’ve had less goals and I’m getting a small bit frustrated but I’m working on not allowing that get to me.
“I want to stay positive within myself. Sometimes that’s difficult because I know there are chances in this team all the time.
“When I don’t score from play I feel like I’m doing something wrong but then when I look back on it I realise I’m actually playing well. At the end of the day, three points is the main thing and we’re top of the league and in a great place.”
Hoban, who captained the side on the night, felt Dundalk were full value for their win over Sligo.
“It was a tough game but I thought we were in full control. We knew where they were going to try and hurt us and that was on the counter but I felt we were in full control.
“We started for a change really, really well and that was the objective. We wanted to start with a higher intensity than we had against Pat’s and I thought we did that extremely well. They had a few half chances but I felt we were in full control and we probably should have had more. We need to be more clinical in my opinion in the final third but 4-0 is 4-0.”
Hoban unselfishly passed up the chance to add to his goal tally when he gave the ball over to John Mountney from the second spot kick to complete his hat-trick. However, he revealed he almost forgot that the Mayo man was on a treble.
“When I had the ball, I forgot he was going for a hat-trick and when he came up to me I was like ‘what are you doing?’ but he explained to me it was his first ever hat-trick so I just said ‘here you go’.
“I was delighted for him that he got it. It was a good penalty and I’m just happy it went in for him.”
Hoban said Friday’s victory was important given Dundalk’s struggles against Liam Buckley’s side so far this season.
“We owed them one tonight because they’ve taken four points off us. No disrespect to Sligo but if you’re going to win the league you’re going to have to get more points off them. Tonight just showed that if we get an early goal against a team who plan to sit in against us that we will punish them over the course of the 90 minutes.”
Now the striker hopes to keep the recent good run of form going away to Finn Harps on Saturday.
“It’s never easy up there. They make it very difficult for you and last time they brought in the pitch five yards each side to try and stop our strengths but you have to deal with that and get on with it.
“It’s going to be a tough night up there but other teams have got points up there so we’ll be looking to do the same on Saturday,” he said.