Match Report by Tony Ghee
Longford Town bounced back from their away defeat at Cabinteely with an excellent one-nil victory at home to promotion challengers Drogheda United to move back into the play-off places, as Sam Verdon’s sixth league goal of the season sealed the crucial three points for Neale Fenn’s charges at the City Calling Stadium last night.
The Town were missing the suspended Meenan and Galvin, and the injured Hopkins and Byrne, but Dervin was back in the panel after having completed his Leaving Cert. Drogheda were missing Conor Kane after he was injured at the City Calling Stadium on Tuesday during the Irish Colleges and Universities 2-1 victory over their French counterparts.
Drogheda were by far the superior team in the opening twenty-five minutes but failed to convert their dominance into goals.
In the eleventh minute, Drogheda striker Lyons should have scored but he fired his swivel shot straight at Town stopper Kelly from no more than eight yards out.
Two minutes later, Jake Hyland came very close to opening the scoring for the visitors but Kelly was alert to palm Hyland’s twenty yard curling strike around the post. Kelly was again called into action from the subsequent corner when he produced a fine save from Doyle’s header.
The home side had another lucky escape in the twenty-first minute when Purdy’s crisp twenty yard shot with the outside of his left boot from a Hyland cut-back came crashing back off the Longford post.
However, against the run of play, Longford hit the front on twenty-seven minutes when the towering Verdon rose above his markers to brilliantly head home from a McGlade free-kick.
Once the Town scored, they grew in confidence and proceeded to play much better for the rest of the contest. A superb weaving run into the visitors box from McGlade had the Drogheda defence in turmoil and his clever pull-back picked out Verdon, but his goalbound shot was magnificently blocked by defender Farragher.
Drogheda came close to equalising on 31 minutes when they struck the post for the second time as Mark Doyle’s 15 yard shot was pushed onto the post by Town keeper Kelly.
The second-half produced very few chances for either side, but the Town played the better football. Drogheda’s best opportunity came early in the new half as a Lyon’s volley from a Deacy cross rocketed narrowly over the Town bar, while at the other end, the Town should have scored a second goal on eigthty-five minutes, however, Mulhall’s shot from Hollywood’s excellent pass was straight at Drogheda keeper Skinner.
There were some excellent individual displays from Elworthy, McDonnell and McGlade but one player who deserves special mention is Karl Chambers. Just like Dervin, and Noack-Hoffman, Chambers has graduated from the underage ranks into the first team and his superb all round display last night proved what a valuable asset he is to the ‘Red & Black’s’ promotion push.
The Town have now won their last three matches against fellow top six sides with victories over Galway United, Finn Harps, and Drogheda to build momentum going into the summer break. Hopefully, they can make it four in-a-row against leaders UCD at the Belfield Bowl in their next fixture on Friday, June 29th.
Longford Town: Kelly, Elworthy, McDonnell, O’Reilly, Hofmann, Zambra, Chambers, Hollywood, Dervin, McGlade, Verdon.
Substitutes: Mulhall for Verdon (81 minutes).
Drogheda United: Skinner, Deacy, Gallagher, Farragher, Kelly, McCaffrey, Doyle, Hyland, Purdy, Brennan, Lyons.
Substitutes: Hondermarck for Purdy (63 minutes), Duffy for McCaffrey (78 minutes).