REPORT BY TONY GHEE
Longford Town’s best performance of the season produced a thrilling 3-1 home victory over Shelbourne in their SSE Airtricity First Division clash at the City Calling Stadium last night as a brace from Enda Curran and a trade mark long range goal from Kevin O’Connor sealed the three points for the ‘Red and Black’.
The victory was the first home league win since October 2015 for Longford Town and the long suffering home support witnessed two high calibre goals from their team as they deservedly won the contest and in the process close the gap on the league leaders Waterford United to eight points. The result also moves the Town into sixth place in the first division.
The Town went into the game minus the services of defender Noel Haverty and the attacking triumvirate of Don Cowan, David O’Sullivan, and Jake Kelly, but Enda Curran stepped up to the mark to provide the goal scoring prowess for the home side.
However, the Town suffered a big blow in the 3rd minute as they went behind after a defensive error. Daniel O’Reilly’s mistake allowed Dale Rooney to gain possession of the ball and he took a touch to create space for himself before drilling a low 20 yard drive to the bottom corner of the Longford net.
The Town recovered to produce some fine passages of football which was rewarded with a top class goal on the quarter-hour mark. Midfielder Kevin O’Connor spotted Enda Curran’s intelligent diagonal run across the Shelbourne box and delivered a pin-point ball to the striker who swivelled on the move to volley a stunning 15 yard shot to the bottom right corner beyond the despairing dive of Shels keeper Delaney.
A dreadful mistake from the visitor’s centre-half Alan Byrne in the 29th minute presented the Town with a golden opportunity to take the lead. The defender completely mistimed an attempted clearance allowing the perceptive Curran to pounce and control the ball and run past Byrne only to be brought down by Delaney as he rounded the Shelbourne keeper. Curran dusted himself down and calmly planted the resultant penalty into the bottom right corner to give the Town a two-one interval lead.
Indeed, it was almost a Curran first half hat-trick but he was brilliantly denied by Delaney in the 41st minute. The overlapping Town full-back Friel curled in a superb right-wing cross that picked out the striker in the box, but Curran’s agile angled header that seemed destined for the bottom corner was magnificently clawed away by Delaney.
Longford Town sealed the three points just after the hour mark when Kevin O’Connor’s twenty-five yard thunderbolt flew past Delaney and nestled in the bottom left corner of the Shelbourne net to put the home side three-one up.
Shelbourne did pose some problems in the last twenty minutes with Adam Evans in particular catching the eye, but resolute Town defending kept the visitors at bay. English headed over the Town bar on 69 minutes and Evans struck a half-volley from 16 yards out that went over the Town bar just two minutes later, but all other attacks were dealt with by a solid Town defence.
These two sides meet again at Tolka Park tomorrow night, Monday, in the EA Sports Cup, while the Town’s next league game is away to Cobh next Saturday night.
Skinner, Friel, O’Reilly, Walsh, Noack-Hofman, McGlade, O’Connor, Zambra, Mulhall, Boyne, Curran.
Substitutes: Chambers for Curran (78 minutes).
Delaney, O’Connor, Prendergast, Byrne, McEnteer, Evans, Ashe, Hughes, O’Brian, Rooney, English.
Substitutes: Lyons for Ashe (63 minutes), O’Leary for O’Brian (84 minutes)