Report by: Rachael Mc Keon
Longford Town U19’s resumed league action after the Christmas break on Saturday with a home tie against Sligo Rovers. With the New Year a new optimism seemed to emerge from the home side. Coming into this game after three wins from three friendlies during the break it was clear there was only one thing on the young Town lad’s minds and that was to secure a win that would put a much needed three points on the league table for them.
The game started and continued for the entire 90 minutes at a blistering pace, with end to end action throughout. The Town went on the attack from the kick off and could have taken the lead early on when Darren Carberry floated a lovely free kick into the box and Paddy Cheevers was unlucky not to get on the end of it to send it into the back of the net. At this stage Sligo were playing some nice football but it was Longford’s fight that was shining through. Sligo was winning the midfield battle but Longford had the advantage out wide and were playing some nice football themselves. Midway through the first half Carberry and Rossiter played a nice one two for Carberry to rocket a shot that glanced just over the crossbar. This spurred Sligo on and not long after they had a shot of their own that went just wide. The final few minutes of the first half brought end to end action as both sides went in search of the opener before the half time whistle. It was Rossiter who came closest for the Town as he gambled on a ball that came in over the top of the Sligo defence; he headed past the Sligo keeper but was cruelly denied his goal as a defender cleared the ball off the line. That brought the first half to a close and both sides went in goalless at the break.
As the second half got underway it was obvious that the Sligo manager must have had plenty to say during the break as his team came out and looked like they had a point to prove. Within minutes Town keeper Conor Devlin pulled off a wonderful save to deny Sligo what would have been the opener. Devlin was looking sharp despite this being his first game for the Town in some time. Ten minutes into the first half Devlin was to be beaten however when a Sligo corner was brilliantly finished by their centre forward as he span off the defender to volley into the bottom corner. This player looks to be a great prospect for the future at Sligo as his movement and awareness throughout the game was great to watch. The same player could have had a few more chances on goal were it not for the effective defending of Sodje and Boateng at the back. The Sligo opener started a ten minute spell where the goals were in great supply. On 58 minutes Rossiter dribbled past his marker, spotted the keeper off his line and he unleashed his shot into the top corner of the Sligo net to level the score for the Town. Three minutes later Carberry put Longford in front when he hit a shot on the half volley across the Sligo keeper that saw it go in at the far post. Their lead was to be short lived however when Sligo launched an attack down the middle of the park and after some nice passing play they caused some confusion for the Town defence which resulted in the equaliser for the visiting side. The final 25 minutes of the game was played at a very high tempo and both keepers were tested on numerous occasions but stood firm and a winner was not to come for either side.
Sligo I’m sure would have come to Flancare Park expecting a win given how the league table stood coming into this game, but it is obvious that Longford have put in a lot of work during the break and after this performance it will be them that will feel hard done by with the result as they dominated for long periods throughout the game. If they carry this performance into their upcoming games it won’t be long before they get the illusive win they deserve.
They have a big double header up next as they play high flying Finn Harps at home on Saturday next at 4pm in the league and again the following weekend at home in the FAI U19 Cup.
It was good to see some local faces out supporting the young Town players and hopefully this trend will continue in future games as the support will only help to spur them on to success.
The Longford Town U19 team and management would like to thank Spar Express on the Dublin Rd. in Longford for their kind sponsorship.
Longford Town: Conor Devlin, Cillian Glacken, Effe Sodje, Stephen Boateng , Shane O’Connell, Patrick Clinton, Sean Flannery, Dean Cosgrave, Mark Rossiter, Paddy Cheevers, Darren Carberry.
Subs: Ciaran Fagan for Glacken (65mins), Leo Araujo for Cheevers (75mins), Padraig Gallagher for Rossiter (89mins).
Not Used: James Donnelly, Andrew Stead.