Longford Town 1 - 1 Wexford Youths
Report by: Rachael McKeon
Longford Town U19’s made the long trip to the not so sunny South East on Sunday last to play their last away league game of the season against Mick Wallace’s Wexford Youths. Both teams for different reasons it would seem started the game slowly. Wexford who were secure in mid table and Longford knowing that just a point would see them overtake GUST and guarantee themselves a place off the foot of the table.
It was the away side however that took the game to their hosts after the slow start when after 12 minutes Ryan Carberry put a great corner in at the back post but it was put out for another corner the far side. This time Kieran McNamara swung in his effort only to see it tipped onto the crossbar by the Wexford keeper and behind to avert the danger once more. It only took three minutes more for the visitors to break the dead lock when full back Sean Duarte delivered a great ball from just inside his own half onto the head of the in rushing Michael James who powered the ball to the Wexford net. For the next twenty minutes there was some very entertaining football played by both sides but neither goal keeper was to be tested greatly. The next chance of note fell to Dean Murphy for the Town when yet another corner swung in by Ryan Carberry looked destined to be headed home but the out coming keeper bravely gathered the ball under extreme pressure from Murphy. It was a fine piece of defending that next stopped Longford adding to their tally when James put a ball into the box for striker Paul Kennedy to get on the end of and his snap shot was wonderfully defended when the Youths centre half threw his body across the shot and deflected the ball wide. The last action of note in the first half fell to the home side when their striker received the ball on the edge of the box and shot goal ward only for McNamara in the Town goal to pull off a great save with his feet and Duarte to tidy up and send the ball down field to safety. Shortly after this the referee brought the half to a close and the away side went in deservedly 1-0 up at the break.
The second half started with a highly controversial decision when Longford had a throw at the halfway line and as Kieran McNamara threw the ball in the linesman called for the attention of the referee who then brandished a red card for Town winger James. This was to puzzle not only the visitors but also the home crowd as nobody at the time seemed to know what the card was for. It then became clear that the Town player was accused of elbowing his opponent but to be fair only the linesman seemed to be of this opinion as not even the Wexford player had complained of any incident. This early sending off was really to effect the game as it seemed to give the hosts the belief that with 40 minutes remaining and a one man advantage this game was theirs for the taking now. They had not however accounted for the new never say die attitude that the visitors seemed to have adopted since the Christmas break. This belief and the extreme hard work by every one of the remaining ten players saw them defend wave after wave of attack from the Youths side for the remainder of the half. Indeed on more than one occasion the battle weary visitors still tried to break forward on the counter attack but were denied by some good Wexford defending. Testament to the away sides determination the Youths were almost always forced to shoot from long range as Longford’s two banks of four tackled hard gave nothing away easily. With just four minutes left on the clock the referee awarded a controversial free kick on the edge of the Town box. Longford believed the free should have gone the other way as substitute Dean Cosgrave was initially fouled but the referee waved play on even though the ball had broke to a Wexford player. Worse still was to come for the away side when the free kick which looked to be going wide struck centre half Steven Boateng and deflected past the helpless McNamara in the Town goal. Wexford put every effort into winning the game but the injustice that the away side must have been feeling from the two game changing decisions seemed to just push them on for the last few minutes and earn themselves the all important and much deserved point to climb above GUST in the league table. As both sides left the field you could see the respect the home sides players had for their visitors who had withstood a 40 minute onslaught and still came away with a positive result. With twelve of this squad still available for next season you really must believe that next season could see this young Town side push on up the table with the experience of this season behind them.
Next up for Longford is the final game of the season at home to league runners up Limerick FC on Friday night in Flancare Park at 7.30pm.
Longford Town: David McNamara, Sean Duarte, Brian McNamara, Steven Boateng, Kieran McNamara, Aaron Brilly(c), Michael James, Ryan Carberry, Dean Murphy, Paul Kennedy, John Reed.
Subs: Dean Cosgrave for Reed (76mins), Ruairi Carberry for Ryan Carberry (89mins).