Report by Tony Ghee
Longford Town moved to within two points of the triple joint leaders Drogheda, Shelbourne and UCD with a 3-0 victory at home to Cabinteely at the City Calling Stadium last night as late, late goals from substitutes Hopkins and Byrne sealed a rather flattering triumph for Neale Fenn’s charges.
The Town took the lead after just seven minutes when Chambers sharp pass set Elworthy free down the right wing and his low cross deflected off Cabinteely defender Butler into the net just inside the post.
Four minutes later, a surging run from Galvin created an opening only for his shot to go just over the Cabinteely bar.
Longford suffered a big blow on sixteen minutes as star centre-half Danny O’Reilly had to be taken off with a head wound that required seven stitches, but he should be fit for next week’s trip to leaders Drogheda United.
The visitors produced a promising attack just after the half-hour mark but Watson’s twenty-two yard strike was straight at Town keeper Kelly.
The second-half produced far more chances for both sides and Cabinteely will be wondering how they failed to score as they missed several excellent chances, but a combination of good saves from Kelly, resolute defending including a crucial goal-line block from Noack-Hofmann, and poor finishing, all contributed to the Town recording their second successive clean sheet.
Twice during the second-half, Hofmann and Verdon combined to almost increase the home side’s lead. Two minutes after the resumption, Hofmann’s first cross from the left was just missed by the inrushing Verdon when any touch at all would have diverted the ball to the net. The second Hofmann cross on fifty-four minutes hit off Verdon’s back and ended up in the Cabinteely keeper’s arms.
Cabinteely should have found the Town net on 49 minutes but the Visitors missed two superb chances to draw level. The unmarked Ball found space inside the Longford box but his effort was well saved by Kelly, the rebound came out to Marty-Waters and his low ball across the box picked out Fox who somehow blazed over the Town bar from just eight yards out.
On 63 minutes, Cabinteely again came close to an equaliser when Andy O’Reilly’s cross found the unmarked Fox fourteen yards out but he headed over the Town bar.
At the other end, a Verdon long range shot whistled narrowly wide of the Cabinteely post but that was followed by two good opportunities for the visitors. On eighty-one minutes, a Ball corner to the back post was headed back towards the opposite post by Butler to the unmarked Knight who nodded wide. Three minutes later, former Longford winger Simon pounced on a mistake by Dervin to race in on goal, however, Town keeper Kelly magnificently saved Simon’s effort.
The Town sealed victory with two late goals from substitutes Hopkins and Byrne in the dying embers of the contest. A brilliant pass from Byrne in the eighty-sixth minute found Hopkins on the right, Hopkins controlled the ball with a deft touch before unleashing a powerful low diagonal shot that rocketed to the bottom left corner of the net. Then in injury time, Byrne waltzed his way past three defenders to fire home the Town’s third and final goal of the night.
Longford Town: Kelly, McDonnell, O’Reilly, Noack-Hofmann, Elworthy, Dervin, Zambra, Verdon, Galvin, Chambers, Mulhall.
Substitutes: O’Connor for O’Reilly (16 minutes), Hopkins for Chambers (59 minutes), Byrne for Verdon (85 minutes).
Cabinteely FC: McGowan, Tuite, Butler, Knight, Stokes, Ball, Lotefa, Watson, O’Reilly, Fox, Marty-Waters.
Substitutes: Casey for Lotefa (67 minutes), Simon for Fox (77 minutes).
Referee: Adriano Reale.