Longford Town v Athlone Town preview

Fri Aug 9th 2013
This weekends game at The City Calling Stadium really needs no introduction so here to bring you a tasty preview ahead of this mouthwatering encounter is our reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_):
This Saturday night’s Midlands derby between Longford Town and Athlone Town has been labelled the biggest one ever during the week long intensive build up and it’s not hard to see why.

Tony Cousins men ended their two match losing streak last Friday but unfortunately for the large travelling contingent in Wexford they did not see a first win in three games as the hosts held Longford to a scoreless draw at Ferrycarrig Park to end a five match losing streak of their own. Despite the initial feeling of it being two points dropped by “De Town” in Wexford there were positives to take from the game as it was a greatly improved performance from what we had seen against Mervue United while debutant Ryan Connolly showed he could play a large role in the Longford midfield between now and the end of the season as LTFC chase promotion back to the Premier Division that they departed in 2007.
As for Roddy Collins, the Athlone Town manager has as expected been very vocal and outspoken in the lead up to this massive derby game by insisting his Athlone team are coming to Longford to “pummel them into the ground”.  Considering the recent run his squad find themselves on it’s not difficult to see why Collins would be confident going into this game but there is a hope among Longford Town supporters that his words might just reignite the spark that has been missing in the Longford Town changing room since the mid-season break, I guess we will only see if his comments have had an effect once referee Keith Callanan whistles for the kick-off on Saturday night.
Despite having less time to build a squad in pre-season than his Midlands counterpart, Collins has built a squad with a good mix of youth and experience with up and coming talents such as Ian Sweeney and Garbhan Coughlan blending perfectly with long time League of Ireland  pro’s such as Philly Gorman and Aidan Collins. Former MNS pundit Collins clearly earmarked the July transfer window as the perfect time for Athlone to stamp their authority on their First Division rivals and despite the early disappointment of missing out on Derek O’Brien (now with Longford of course), the Athlone Town boss has sent out huge signals of intent in recent weeks with the signings of Enda Curran and Graham Kelly...both signing on from Salthill Devon.
Athlone fans will have been delighted with Curran’s introduction last Friday night as he bagged the winner against Finn Harps as a second half substitute in front of a bumper crowd at Lissywoolen.....
Kelly’s arrival at The Athlone Town Stadium couldn’t have come at a better time for the “Rod squad” as they will be without midfield driving force James O’Brien this weekend as the former Longford Town man misses out through suspension. O’Brien is the only player affected by suspension for the “clasico” with Longford boss Tony Cousins finally having a settled back four to choose from on Saturday night following a string of injuries and suspensions in recent weeks, a huge factor in “De Town’s” recent poor defensive record.
Despite defeat in the most recent Midlands derby Longford Town’s players can walk out onto the hallowed turf on the Strokestown Road knowing they already hold a victory over this Athlone Town side at The City Calling Stadium this season when late late goals from Noel Haverty and David O’Sullivan secured the three points.
Athlone Town hold the division’s best defensive record having only conceded a miserly 14 league goals this season and tactics will play a huge role in Saturday’s local derby and it is sure to be a fascinating watch for those who enjoy the more advanced side of the game with the temptation for Athlone to shut up shop and maintain their two points lead being balanced against the temptation for Roddy Collins to send his men out and potentially knock the home side out of the title race by going for a win which would see them 5 points clear with just 7 league games remaining! Longford Town boss Tony Cousins is sure to have learnt lessons from the recent home defeat against Mervue United where the away side played the counter attacking game to perfection during their 3-1 win so again it will be fascinating to see what approach the Longford boss goes with for a game he knows his side simply cannot lose.
Kick-off at The City Calling Stadium is 7-30pm on Saturday 10th August with adult tickets available for €10, Students €8 and Kids just €5. With tickets available on the gate at such fantastic value for what is a massive game in the history of both clubs the biggest crowd for many seasons is expected at CCS and we want to see you there to back the boys....”De Town” needs you!

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