Match Report by Tony Ghee
Longford Town were on the cusp of a brilliant away victory over then league leaders Drogheda United when they agonisingly conceded a ninety-fifth minute equaliser with the second-last kick off the game, as they failed to clear a Brennan free-kick and centre-half Ciaran Kelly pounced to rifle home to the bottom corner to secure a draw.
Longford Town have now dropped three points in stoppage time this season, as they also conceded a ninety-third minute goal in the 3-2 away defeat to Shelbourne in Tolka Park.
Drogheda remained unchanged from the side that defeated UCD 2-0 last week, while Neale Fenn made two changes to the Longford team that beat Cabinteely 3-0 last week, as Adam O’Connor came in for the ill McDonnell and Dean Byrne started instead of Sam Verdon.
The action in the first half was mainly contained to the opening fifteen minutes with both sides creating chances. In the fifth minute, Town winger Galvin raced down the left and played the ball inside to Dervin whose twenty-five yard rising strike went just over the Drogheda bar.
Two minutes later, a curling right-wing free-kick from Drogheda midfielder Brennan picked out the unmarked Gallagher fifteen yards out from goal but he headed over the Town bar.
On nine minutes, the visitors attacked down the right and an Elworthy cross resulted in home defender Kelly’s headed clearance falling to Town striker Mulhall but his goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked out for a corner.
Drogheda’s second chance of the contest came in the twelfth minute when an excellent slide-rule pass from Brennan put in McCaffrey and his weak shot was spilled by Town keeper Kelly with the ball being put out for a corner that was easily dealt with by the Town defence.
The game quietened down for the rest of the half although some promising moves especially from the Town broke down with the final ball either slightly undercooked or slightly over cooked.
Longford almost broke the deadlock in the opening minute of the second-half when impressive striker Byrne’s low diagonal shot from the left-edge of the Drogheda box whistled inches wide of the far post with home keeper Skinner well beaten.
The ‘Red & Black’ took the lead on fifty-eight minutes with a sumptuous twenty-five yard thunderbolt from Byrne that rocketed to the bottom left-corner of the net after superb set-up play from substitute Chambers (another of the club’s players who has come through from the underage ranks).
Dean Byrne, who put Town ahead on 58 minutes
Drogheda nearly levelled matters on sixty-two minutes when Chambers was dispossessed by Doyle on the edge of the Longford box and McCaffrey’s goalbound shot was magnificently blocked by Town centre-half O’Reilly.
Two minutes later, Drogheda came close again. A superb ball from Brennan found Duffy on the right and his cross evaded the Town defence to locate Doyle on the right near the end-line inside the box, but his effort from a very tight angle saved by Kelly.
Drogheda piled on the pressure in the final twenty minutes and on eighty-six minutes, substitute striker Lyons headed a Kane cross straight at Town keeper Kelly.
A minute later, Town keeper Kelly produced a world class save as he somehow tipped a close range Ciaran Kelly header over the bar.
It looked like the visitors were going to come away with all three points but Drogheda were given one last chance to snatch a draw in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time. A Farragher ball into the danger area was misjudged by the otherwise excellent centre-half O’Connor with his attempted headed clearance and although O’Reilly headed the ball away, the ball landed at the feet of the impressive Drogheda centre-half Ciaran Kelly and he drilled a low sixteen yard strike to the bottom right corner of the Town net for a dramatic equaliser with the second last kick of the match.
The equalising hero Ciaran Kelly was Drogheda’s best player while young Aodh Dervin was the Town’s man-of-the-match, but there were several other excellent Town displays.
The result means that UCD are the new league leaders on 16 points after their 3-2 victory over Finn Harps, Drogheda drop to second with 14 points, Shels who lost to Cabinteely are third on 13 points, Longford Town and Galway United are next on 12 points to complete the top five.
Next up for Neale Fenn’s charges is next Saturday’s home match against new leaders UCD at the City Calling Stadium. The Town may be without Shane Elworthy who left the stadium on crutches after going over on his ankle, but hopefully, Peter Hopkins will recover from his knock in time for next weekend.
Drogheda United: Skinner, Gallagher, Farragher, Ciaran Kelly, Kane, Brennan, Purdy, Hyland, Doyle, McCaffrey, Duffy.
Substitutes: Deasy for Gallagher (69 minutes), Lyons for McCaffrey (67 minutes), Meaney for Purdy (80 minutes).
Longford Town: Mick Kelly, Elworthy, O’Reilly, O’Connor, Noack-Hofmann, Hopkins, Zambra, Dervin, Galvin, Byrne, Mulhall.
Substitutes: Chambers for Elworthy (55 minutes), McGlade for Hopkins (68 minutes), Verdon for Byrne (83 minutes).