Report by Tony Ghee
Longford Town progressed to the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup with a hard fought 1-0 victory away to top Leinster Senior League side Bangor Celtic in Dublin last night courtesy of a stunning Don Cowan goal and an incredible wonder save from Town keeper Jack Brady.
The Town, who knocked out Premier Division Sligo Rovers in the last round, completely dominated the first half against their non-league opponents but failed to hit the target as the teams were scoreless at the break.
In the 9th minute, Hofmann's goalbound header from a Chambers corner was cleared off the line and Kelly's subsequent cross was headed against the Bangor bar by O'Reilly.
On 17 minutes, a brilliant Town move involving Friel, Kehoe, and Kelly resulted in O'Sullivan heading narrowly wide and on 24 minutes a Verdon header went just over the bar.
Another brilliant move in the 24th minute nearly gave the Town the lead. A superbly weighted long pass out of defence from Friel picked out O'Sullivan just outside the Bangor box and he expertly took the pace off the ball with his left foot, cushioning the ball onto his right foot before unleashing a sumptuous volley that flew just wide of the far post.
On the half-hour mark, a rampant Longford came close again only for Verdon's thirty yard piledriver to whistle just over the crossbar.
Longford thought they had scored four minutes before the interval when O'Sullivan's deflected header struck the inside of the post and bounced across the line with Verdon pouncing to prod home the rebound, however, the goal was disallowed as Verdon was offside.
Bangor Celtic may have been played off the park in the opening forty-five minutes, but the Leinster Senior League outfit were a vastly improved side in the Second-half as they played some excellent football creating chances that should have reaped dividends.
After the visitors came close again in the 53rd minute when Verdon's glancing header from a Friel cross floated wide off the far post, the home side suddenly awoke from their slumber as they produced a fine move that resulted in Graham Zambra heading a Phillips cross inches wide.
On 65 minutes, the excellent Byrne fired in a twenty-five yard salvo that seemed destined for the top corner only for the cat-like Town keeper Brady to athletically claw the ball away to safety.
Within a minute, Longford almost broke the deadlock but former Town stopper Conlon produced a magnificent save from Kehoe after the Town winger had weaved his way into the Bangor box.
Soccer is often called the beautiful game and it's beauty was epitomised on 71 minutes with a captivating, breathtaking goal that truly was beautiful.
O'Reilly delivered an exquisite crossfield ball into the path of substitute Cowan and he waltzed his way past four defenders with perfect balance and poise to finish off the move in style with a low shot beyond Conlon into the Bangor net.
Bangor Celtic responded well with two good chances to force extra-time. Firstly, Sinnott was just over with an excellent strike and then on 81 minutes, Town keeper Brady made a world class save. Graham Zambra's excellent shot changed direction causing Brady to dive the wrong way, but somehow, the Town keeper adjusted his body and incredibly raised his feet upwards to produce an incredible save.
Bangor Celtic: Conlon, Phillips, Fadden, Keely, Bamba, Coleman, Murray, Dunne, Byrne, Graham Zambra, Fox.
Substitutes: Andrew Dunne for Bamba (49 minutes), Sinnott for Fox (73 minutes), O'Connor for Murray (89 minutes).
Longford Town: Brady, Friel, Haverty, O'Reilly, Noack-Hofmann, Chambers, Dean Zambra, Verdon, Kehoe, Kelly, O'Sullivan.
Substitutes: Cowan for Chambers (66 minutes), Dillon for Kehoe (87 minutes)