Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup First Round
Saturday 12th August 2017 / City Calling Stadium / 7.30pm
Longford Town 4-2 Sligo Rovers
667 were on hand to witness Longford Town defeat Sligo Rovers and dump them out of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup after the first round clash at City Calling Stadium. An early goal from Karl Chambers put Longford in front before Sligo got 2 back to go in leading at the break. Town eventually equalised through Sam Verdon before going on to win 4-2 after extra time with goals from Man of the Match Peter Hopkins and Kealan Dillon.
Longford came into the game minus the services of club captain Kevin O’Connor who picked up an injury a couple of weeks ago and with regular #1 Paul Skinner also on the injury list, U19 keeper Adam Kenny was promoted to the first team bench. Neale Fenn’s men were boosted, however, by the return to fitness of super striker Davy O’Sullivan. Sligo had no injury worries but were without Tobi Adebayo-Rowling who was suspended.
The returning Section O were as loud as ever as the game kicked off. New signing Peter Hopkins signalled his intent immediately with a darting run down the right wing to get a cross in. Sligo, however, were the first with a real chance. Benny Igiehon ended up free in the b0x but Noel Haverty pulled off a last ditch tackle to get it away. Davy O’Sullivan had a chance for Longford as Friel’s cross was met in the air by the Wicklow man but it was over the bar. Moments later Sligo almost opened the scoring but Jack Brady pulled off a brilliant save, the first of many in a possible man of the match performance.
Longford opened the scoring on 26 minutes – Dean Zambra threading a lovely through ball to Karl Chambers in the box who easily put it past Michael Schlingermann in the Sligo goal. The stadium erupted.
Sligo responded almost immediately. Rovers captain John Russell swung a cross in to find Daniel Kearns who made no mistake in heading home. Town players called for offside but to no avail. Sligo got their second 3 minutes before half time, the big man Benny Igiehon, muscling his way through the box and scoring from close range after a Sligo corner wasn’t cleared.
Longford started the second half the livelier of the two. Peter Hopkins, who caused trouble all night, once again getting crosses in from the right hand side. Town began to apply pressure but did have to withstand some Sligo attacks. Brady in goal, pulling off a number of great saves. De Town had a chance to equalise when Daniel O’Reilly leaped high to header a Jake Kelly corner but Schlingermann saved. Don Cowan, who replaced Aidan Friel, was physical from the get go, winning a free immediately after coming on. The free was laid off to Sam Verdon who played in Davy O’Sullivan but his low shot was just wide. Town equalised in the 83rd minute after Sam Verdon headed home brilliantly from a Peter Hopkins cross. There was nothing Schlingermann could do about it. Moments later, Brady came to Longfords rescue once again, this time pulling off a finger tip save to deflect the ball on to the crossbar and out for a corner. Sligo eventually ran out of steam and the game went into extra time with the score level at 2-2.
Town came out all guns blazing in extra time. Karl Chambers and Jake Kelly who never stopped running all night, worked tirelessly to chase every ball down. Longford took the lead after breaking from a Sligo corner. The ball fell to Peter Hopkins who made no mistake in burying it in the back of the net. Neale Fenn and Gary Cronin erupted in joy as the City Calling Stadium rocked. Sligo had a penalty waved away just before half time of extra time. Things went from bad to worse for the Bit O’Red as McDonagh picked up a yellow for diving then moments later was sent off for two footed tackle. Town took advantage of the extra man, breaking out from the back, the ball was played to Kealan Dillon (who replaced Verdon) who then rounded the Sligo defender before cooly slotting it low past Schlingermann to end the game.
In scenes, reminiscent of previous years’ cup runs of old, City Calling Stadium was a cauldron of noise and colour and smiles. In 1969, just like tonight, a Longford Town team many thought to be easy pickings for most premier teams, defeated Sligo Rovers in the FAI Cup. Tonight, the same result was achieved, once again proving, that although a lot of things change in football, the fighting spirit of Longford Town FC will always remain.
Longford Town: Jack Brady; Aidan Friel (Don Cowan 76), Noel Haverty, Daniel O’Reilly, Tristan Noack-Hofmann, Peter Hopkins, Jake Kelly (Rhys Gorman 112), Dean Zambra, Sam Verdon (Kealan Dillon 104), Karl Chambers; David O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: Adam Kenny, Cody Mulhall, Aodh Dervin, Paul Finnegan.
Sligo Rovers: Schlingermann; McDonagh, Leahy, McFadden, Donelon; Russell (Kenny 72), McCabe, Kearns (Cretaro 75); Boylan; Igiehon (Faherty 58), Moorehouse.
Subs not used: Patton, Sharkey, Roddan, Haughton.