Preview by Tony Ghee
Longford Town hope to make it three successive league wins on Saturday when they host promotion chasing rivals Shels at the City Calling Stadium on Saturday night. After successive home defeats to UCD and Finn Harps, Neale Fenn’s ‘Red & Black Army’ are back on track after beating Cobh 1-0 and Wexford FC 2-0 on their travels over the last two weeks. There was disappointment inbetween as Town exited the EA Cup losing to Cobh in the quater-final, but after three away games in-a-row, the home faithful should turn out in force to support the Midlanders in a crucial six-pointer against the Tolka Park outfit.
In the earlier league meeting at Tolka Park, Longford finished the game with nine players as both McGlade and Verdon received their marching orders in the last fifteen minutes with Shelbourne winning the game 3-2 with a late, late injury time penalty. David O’Sullivan who spent five seasons at the City Calling Stadium, earning iconic status as the club’s all time record goalscorer, came back to haunt the Town with a hat-trick against his former club that he only left at the end of last season. Sully has continued his rich vein of scoring form with the Dubliners netting ten times already this season.
As well as O’Sullivan, the Town defence will also need to keep an eye on the mercurial James English and the lively Adam Evans in their bid to record a third successive league clean sheet. Since beating Galway 2-0 at Tolka Park towards the end of April, Shelbourne have drawn their last three league matches,1-1 away to Drogheda United, 1-1 at home to leaders UCD, and 0-0 at home to Finn Harps, so they are under pressure to get back to winning ways.
Only three points separate second placed Drogheda from sixth placed Longford Town with Shelbourne in fifth place just a point ahead of Longford and the current top six should be the teams that will battle it out for the title and the three promotion play-off places at the end of the season.
On the team news front, Aodh Dervin and Peter Hopkins have recovered well from their knocks but Saturday’s game is probably too early for them to be risked with the Midlands Derby the following week away to Athlone their likely return fixture, but definitely out of Saturday’s match are Shane O’Connor, Adam O’Connor, Cian Byrne, and Alan Kehoe.
Kick-off on Saturday evening at the City Calling Stadium is 7.30pm.