LTFC.ie reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_) previews Saturday night's top of the table clash between promotion rivals Finn Harps and Longford Town.
Longford Town travel to Ballybofey on Saturday night full of confidence following their come from behind win against promotion rivals Waterford United at the City Calling Stadium a week ago. A 2-1 win against the “Blues” came off the back of a 2-0 win against local rivals Athlone in the EA Sports Cup as well as the opening weekend demolition job of Salthill Devon at the Drom where “De Town” ran out 5-0 winners to claim a dream start to the new season.
Paudie Quinn’s sensational early goal was not enough on Saturday last to stop “De Town’s” 100% record, a record only matched by Sligo Rovers in the entire Airtricity League at present. However, despite a great start to the 2013 season, Tony Cousins men will be extremely wary of the threat posed by this weekend’s opponents, Finn Harps, who in 2012 defeated Cousins men no less than three times in the league.
While Harps may not have enjoyed maximum points from their opening two league games this season, “Pizza” Hutton’s men are also undefeated with four points from their first two encounters with Waterford United and Cobh Ramblers respectively.
Harps opening weekend tie with United was seen by many as a chance to lay down an early season title marker and despite dominating large periods of the game at the RSC, the “Blues” went home disappointed thanks to an 89th minute equalizer from Finn Harps Sean McCarron. The Donegal men followed that confidence boosting result up by dismantling new boys, Cobh Ramblers, at the Finn Park venue last weekend. This 4-1 win over Ramblers was particularly impressive considering the Cork sides opening weekend performance of their own (A 5-0 win against Wexford Youths).
The main threat from the home side on Saturday night will come from the Harps central midfield pairing, a pairing many home fans believe to be the best in the second tier, while old reliable Kevin McHugh will once again be looking to get on the score sheet against Longford Town.
However, a new threat many Town followers maybe unaware of come Saturday night is that of, newly acquired striker, Sean McCarron. Despite only playing 75 minutes of first team football this season the former Derry City, Institute and Kildrum Tigers striker has already scored three goals.
With former Derry City centre half Thomas McBride suspended after his straight red card in the opening league game, Harps may find themselves exposed to the pace and power of Town duo David O’Sullivan and Michael Isciheli, who both netted on their home debuts against Waterford while pacey talent Josh O’Hanlon did not play meaning the 17-year-old striker should be extremely fresh if called upon on Saturday night.
Meetings between these sides are always full blooded, full of goals but most of all entertaining and with Saturday’s encounter being dubbed as the biggest of the season so far for both sides, I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying, we should be in for another cracking tie at Finn Park this coming weekend.