Vinny Perth will continue to shuffle his pack for their final away league game of the season against Cork City at Turner’s Cross this Friday (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Dundalk head coach trialled a new system of three at the back against Bohemians on Friday when their 31 match unbeaten run domestically came to an end.
While disappointed to lose a first league game in six months, Perth said he felt the Lilywhites had earned the right to mix things up having won the title a month early and said his team selection for the two remaining matches before next month’s FAI Cup final would be based around who needed game time and who needed rest.
Asked was it all about bouncing back to winning ways on Friday, the 43-year-old said: “Of course you do. You want to win games of football but we have to be careful now. We’ve earned the right to play a team of players that we feel is right because we’ve won the league so convincingly so if people need game time they’ll get it but again this is a good line in the sand for us. We can build from here and move forward.
“It gives us a chance to rebuild. We’ve rested Gannon, Shields and Duffy and we’ve got game time into other players as well so in one sense it’s a good night for us for people and appearances but it’s a disappointing night overall. We don’t like losing games of football. Ultimately we should have been better to the league tonight and that’s the disappointing part but it wasn’t for the want of trying because the lads kept going obviously until the last minute.
“We were brave tonight in one sense in terms of we tried something a little bit different with three centre halves. We had a lot of the ball and we felt it was a sucker punch (for the opening goal).
“That suits Bohs because they like that counter attack style. We made a mistake for the goal and gave them something to hang onto and they did to be fair and probably deserved the win.
“We had a lot of possession. This was a system we wanted to try but it just didn’t work but we learnt a lot tonight. There were a lot of positives as well. Again, it was another 90 minutes for Robbie and Sean in midfield so there was a lot of stuff that we were happy with but ultimately as a club we don’t like losing games of football and it’s hurtful in that sense.”
While there was flu in the camp midweek, Perth denied that the new system was deployed as a result of it.
“We definitely wanted to try it. We’ve got three or four of the better centre halves in the country so it’s something we were going to try.
“I don’t want to make excuses about the flu but it has affected how we’ve trained this week in terms of numbers. It has even hit me in the last 24 or 36 hours.
“It’s one of them things that is part of football. Blaming it would be making excuses. We gave away two silly goals tonight and then we were very vulnerable on the counter attack. We should have been better in the final third.
“Had we went in at half-time at 0-0 with that amount of possession we would have been happy in terms of how we played. I do know the three lads can play together now, I do know they can dominate the ball and we’ve learned something so that’s really what it’s all about. Would we play that system with the same people ahead of them? Probably not. The combinations weren’t quite right. For Kelly, it was a bit alien to him but in terms of can three centre halves play together? They can, so we’ve learned something for next season.”
The head coach also reiterated his hope that he would have a fully fit squad for the Cup final.
“McEleney and Mountney have both done a huge amount of work tonight. We’re building towards hopefully being very close to a fully fit squad. I don’t expect anyone to miss the Cup final as it currently stands. That’s where we are at the moment. There are loads of positives. The doc has worked overtime this week but we’re in a good position,” he said.