Match Report by Tony Ghee
Longford Town’s promotion play-off prospects hang by a very thin thread after a two goal salvo from Gareth McCaffrey earned promotion rivals Drogheda United a crucial two-one home victory last night.
The result means that Drogheda leapfrog Longford into the final play-off spot with a two point cushion and a superior goal difference going into the final round of matches next weekend.
Drogheda had the first chance on seven minutes when Richie Purdy’s quickly taken free-kick caught the Town defence napping, and the unmarked Chris Lyons whipped in a dangerous low cross that was just missed at the back post by the lunging Luke Gallagher.
Two minutes later, the home side came close again, as Gareth McCaffrey’s cross from the right picked out striker Lyons, only for Town keeper Mick Kelly to brilliantly save his close range strike.
Longford took the lead on fourteen minutes totally against the run of play. Town striker Dean Dillon won possession twenty-five yards out, weaved his way past three Drogheda defenders and magically curled a stunning twenty yard strike beyond Paul Skinner’s despairing dive into the bottom right corner.
Drogheda should have equalised in the thirty-second minute when William Hondermarck’s exquisite long-range ball over the top of the Town defence put in Mark Doyle, he charged into the box only to shoot wide when he should have rattled the Longford net.
Drogheda deservedly equalised on thirty-five minutes when McCaffrey’s brilliant twenty-five yard free kick from the left, rocketed past Town stopper Kelly and nestled in the bottom right corner.
McGlade could have restored the lead for Longford just before half time, but his lob from a difficult angle on the right over the outrushing home keeper Skinner sailed wide.
The Town had a great chance to regain the lead six minutes after the resumption. Karl Chambers brilliantly dispossessed Conor Kane and passed to McGlade, he inturn released Peter Hopkins with a cleverly disguised pass, Hopkins raced into the box and fired a low shot that Skinner saved with his feet.
On sixty-four minutes, Drogheda won a free-kick on the left which resulted in Gallagher firing McCaffrey’s dangerous ball wide.
Disaster struck for Longford on sixty-nine minutes when Lyons ball over a very high-line Town defence put McCaffrey in the clear, and although he looked well offside, his cool, composed, chipped finish past Kelly was allowed to stand.
Longford almost drew level three minutes later when Chambers just managed to beat Skinner to the ball, however, his sliding effort from a very tight angle hit the side-netting.
A mix-up between Dervin and Zambra almost resulted in a third goal for the home side but Lyon’s diagonal shot flashed just inches wide of Longford’s far post.
The Town almost snatched a dramatic equaliser with the last attack of the game when Town keeper Kelly joined the attack and rose highest to connect with McGlade’s corner, but his header agonisingly went inches wide.
Drogheda United (4-2-3-1): Skinner, Deasy, Kelly, Gallagher, Kane, Purdy, Hyland, McCaffrey (Dillon 75 mins), Hondermarck, Doyle (Adeyemo 92 mins), Lyons.
Longford Town (4-4-2): Kelly, Chambers, McDonnell, O’Reilly, Noack-Hofmann, Hopkins (Ryan 94 mins), Dervin, Zambra (O’Neill 83 mins), McGlade, Dillon, Doyle.