Report by: Rachael Mc Keon
For the second Saturday in a row it was top versus bottom from the league as Longford Town U19’s took on Finn Harps in Flancare Park, but this time it was in the Airtricity U19 National Cup first round. As with most cup games league form tends to go out the window and this game was no exception. Finn Harps got proceedings underway with the kick off but it was Longford that got off to the best possible start when they opened the scoring with just five minutes gone.
Darren Carberry made a darting run down the left wing and swung a lovely ball into the box that was met on the half volley by striker Mark Rossiter who made no mistake this week in putting the ball past the flailing Harps keeper to make it 1-0 to the Town. He could have made it 2-0 minutes later when midfielder Dean Cosgrave played a ball through for Rossiter to have a snap shot but this time the Harps keeper made amends by pulling off a good save. Cosgrave himself got on the score sheet just six minutes later when he drilled a shot from the edge of the box that saw it cannon off the underside of the crossbar and over the line for Longford’s second. At this point the Town looked dangerous every time they went forward and Harps were at sixes and sevens as to how to stop their advances. Effe Sodje who found himself in a strikers role after Paddy Cheevers injured himself in the warm up gave Harps even more problems when he evaded their defence and the keeper came flying out to try and thwart his efforts but it was he who came out worst and had to be replaced after just twenty three minutes, but not before Rossiter netted his second and the Towns third against him. Cosgrave and Rossiter played a lovely one two just outside the box before Rossiter turned his marker and unleashed a powerful shot into the top corner that found the Harps keeper wanting once more before he was forced off with the injury he picked up earlier. With just twenty minutes gone in the first half Longford were 3-0 up and in this form the neutral onlooker would have been forgiven for thinking it was Longford who were the table toppers. The Town continued to pile on the pressure and defended well also for the remainder of the half and went in 3-0 up at the break.
Harps came out fighting in the second half and managed to sustain a considerable period of pressure against the Town. During this period they had two good shots of note but Town keeper Devlin was on top form once again and denied Harps the goal they so desperately wanted. It wasn’t all one way traffic for long however and Longford responded with some tidy football of their own that saw them coming close for a fourth goal when Sodje weaved his way past the Harps defence an found himself one on one with the keeper, he managed to get his shot off but the keeper had his angles well covered. With five minutes to go until full time it looked like Longford had all but sealed victory and were heading for their first win of the season and indeed their first clean sheet. Harps however in a last ditch effort to salvage something from the game went with five up front. It was to pay off with three minutes remaining, they cleared the ball down field from a Longford attack it was linked onto by one of their attacking players and finished past the unlucky Devlin. Longford responded and defended well against wave after wave of attack but the table toppers over loaded the Town box and in the melee somehow managed to poke the ball home for a second as the clock ticked past ninety minutes. The young Town teams nerves were to be tested even further when the referee for some unknown reason to everyone in the ground played an amazing EIGHT minutes of additional time. They showed their resolve however as they defended gallantly and held out until the final whistle eventually sounded and they recorded the victory they so badly wanted and deserved all season, but more importantly progressed to the next round of the cup where they play Dundalk in Flancare Park on the weekend of the 5th of February.
Next up for Longford is the first part of what now is a double header against Dundalk as they must travel to Oriel Park next Saturday to face them in the league.
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, Patrick Clinton, Shane O’Connell, Stephen Boateng, Cillian Glacken, Leo Araujo, Sean Flannery, Dean Cosgrave, Mark Rossiter, Effe Sodje, Darren Carberry.
Subs: James Donnelly for Carberry (70mins), Padraig Gallagher for Araujo (85mins).
Not Used: Ciaran Fagan.
Goals: Rossiter 5, 20mins, Cosgrave 11mins.