Report by: Rachael Mc Keon
This weekend saw the Longford Town U19’s make the long trip to the tip of Donegal to take on Fanad Utd in the league. Credit has to go to the staff at Fanad who worked wonders to get one of their pitches playable for this game. Both of their pitches were under water this week due to the inclement weather of late but thankfully they got their second pitch ready for the game. The pitch was heavy but didn’t take away from what turned out to be a great game of football.
Longford came into this game on the back of two heavy defeats to Dundalk but started like a team on a mission when Ciaran Fagan starting in midfield for the first time this season put in two great hard but fair tackles on each of the Fanad centre midfielders. This was to set the tone for the day as the away side battled hard for the ninety minutes. Five minutes in it was the home side though that got the first opportunity for a strike on goal as the referee punished an overzealous tackle from Steven Boateng on the edge of the Town box. The resulting free kick was sweetly hit by the Fanad free taker but Town keeper Devlin pulled off a great save to deny Fanad an early goal. From here on the Town were very much on top for the game and tormented the Fanad defence at times. Winger Leo Araujo came closest to opening the scoring for Longford when he took a snap shot from the edge of the box but the Fanad keeper was alert and made a great save. Not long after this Araujo yet again evaded the Fanad defence and Gallagher picked him out with a wonderful ball from the right which he met on the volley only to see his shot go inches wide. The Fanad defence looked like they were struggling to keep the Town at bay with Araujo and Gallagher doing well down the wings and Rossiter and Carberry working hard up front. Just before half time Dean Cosgrave who on Thursday made his first appearance of the year for the Town first team against St. Patricks Athletic in a friendly, played a lovely ball into the channel but unfortunately Rossiter was to be caught just offside. Longford should have gone in ahead at half time but the Fanad keeper must take the credit for his team still being level at the break.
The second half had only begun when Carberry passed a cracking ball to the front post but the keeper just got down to smother the ball before the incoming Rossiter could get his foot to it. Two minutes later Rossiter had a shot from just inside the box which the Fanad keeper managed to get his finger tips to and tip it over the bar. There was a break in play soon after as the referee needed to receive some attention when he was hit full force in the face with the ball as Cosgrave cleared his lines and the unfortunate referee was in the wrong place at the wrong time. As play restarted the Town were on the attack yet again, this time it was Carberry who rounded his marker and as he made his way into the box he got his shot away only for the keeper to smother it at the near post. In the 65th minute Fanad on one of their few meaningful attacks in the game received a free kick on the left just outside the Town box for a foul by a now tiring Fagan. The resulting free kick was struck well and looked to be going in but Devlin got across to palm the ball out and got up quickly to save the rebound. Devlin then sent the ball long and found Cosgrave who flicked it forward into the run of Rossiter that saw the Town striker go one on one with the Fanad keeper. Unfortunately for the striker as the ball bounced he collided with the keeper, but the ball ran free to Araujo on the edge of the box and as he shot towards goal it looked as though he had found the opener but one of the fanad defenders managed to clear the ball off the line. On 68 minutes Fagan who had worked hard all afternoon was replaced by new signing Tommy Cooney. Fanad were starting to come into the game now but it was the away side that were to get the next clear opportunity on goal when Carberry floated in a wonderful corner from the left which Boateng met with a powerful header to send the ball goal ward. Just as everyone in the ground though that this had broken the deadlock the keeper somehow managed to get his hand to the ball and pull it out of the top corner. From the resulting kick out the Town right full back Flannery forced the ball back up field toward the strikers where Rossiter found Araujo but his tired shot was easily gathered by the keeper. Flannery playing out of position in this game played with the type of composure of a player who played in this position for many years. The next meaningful attack of the game was when the trio of Cosgrave, Rossiter and Araujo played some great one two football but Rossiters attempt on goal was foiled yet again by the keeper. After this Fanad put some pressure on the Town defence and but for some top class defending from centre half Boateng they may well have found the opening goal. It didn’t take long for the visitors to re-establish their dominance and Carberry now playing on the left wing was sending some very dangerous balls into the Fanad box but their defence and keeper were standing firm. Twelve minutes from time and totally against the run of play it was the home side that broke the dead lock. They received a corner on the right it was dealt with initially by Devlin who palmed the ball out for another corner and from the second corner the Fanad centre half managed to slip away unnoticed by his marker and drove a powerful header into the back of the net. At this time the away side brought Cheevers on in place of Gallagher who had worked tirelessly for his team all afternoon. Longford were now pushing forward in search of an equaliser which would be the least they deserved for their performance. Cheevers was winning every high ball put in but with Fanad now having six in defence it was a struggle for the Town attack to try and penetrate this. The home side were to have one more chance but Devlin was alert as he had been all day to the danger and saved well. From there on it was all Longford but unfortunately as time ticked by and with a blanket of Fanad defenders in front of them a goal was not to be had in this encounter for the visitors.
It finished 1-0 to the home side but it was a harsh result for Longford who dominated all over the field for the entire game but unfortunately for them they found a Fanad keeper in form to deny them a share of the spoils on this occasion. The Town now have a two week break before their next league game away to Sligo Rovers.
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, Sean Flannery, Stephen Boateng , Shane O’Connell, Cillian Glacken, Leo Araujo, Ciaran Fagan, Dean Cosgrave, Mark Rossiter, Darren Carberry, Padraig Gallagher.
Subs: Tommy Cooney for Fagan (68mins), Paddy Cheevers for Gallagher (78mins).