Fri Jun 14th 2013
This week’s match preview needs little introduction with everyone in the Midlands region preparing for the derby game between Athlone Town and Longford Town known as “El Clasico”. Here to preview proceedings at the Athlone Town Stadium is LTFC.ie reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_)
Longford Town travel to the home of their greatest rivals on Friday night for the third instalment of the game known in these parts as “El Clasico”. Athlone Town are of course the opposition and with Tony Cousins Longford holding the chance to go into the midseason break with at least a nine point lead should they claim victory on Friday night, rarely has there been a more important meeting between these two foes.
The “Red and black” go into the game with two derby day triumphs to their credit already this season after a 2-0 win in the first round of the EA Sports Cup in Lissywoolen while late goals from Noel Haverty and David O’Sullivan helped Longford on their way to a 2-1 win at City Calling Stadium in the sides first league meeting back in April.
The hosts come into this game full of confidence after taking a 3-2 win away from County Donegal last Saturday night as Roddy Collins men sent a message to their rivals with a big win against a much fancied Finn Harps. Garbhan Coughlan was the star of the show again for Athlone in Balyboffey and the Longford back four will have to be on guard throughout if they are to stop the former Limerick player from claiming another man of the match award on Friday.
Alongside Coughlan is likely to be former Shelbourne forward Philly Gorman who despite finding himself fifth in the First Division scoring charts is on a bit of a goal drought at the moment. However, if there was ever a time to buck that trend it is in the “Clasico” so again the Longford centre-halfs will have to be on the top of their game.
It is not only in the forward positions the “Blue and Black” have impressed this season as the Athlone defense is statistically the best in the division but they will have their work cut out if they are to stop goal machine David O’Sullivan from notching a stunning 15th league goal of the season. That figure is even more impressive when you take into account the fact O’Sullivan only set himself a target of 15 for the entire season!
With a loud and colourful atmosphere expected on Friday night a cool and experienced head is key and should LTFC midfielder Keith Gillespie receive a recall after his recent suspension he could play a key role given his experience in massive games and derby’s throughout his career.
This past week has been a much more settled one for Tony Cousins and his backroom staff after playing 3 games in just 7 days the previous week before. That fixture pile up showed in the later stages of Longford’s last league game against Wexford when the home side took their foot of the gas slightly which was understandable having played 120 minutes against St.Pat’s in the Leinster Senior Cup just four days before. However, with a full uninterrupted week now under the players belts they are sure to be in tip top condition both physically and mentality for what many are calling the biggest Midlands derby in years!
With both teams and sets of supporters going into the game with that exact same mindset Friday night’s game is sure to be an excited and full blooded contest. We hope everyone travelling to the game will enjoy the occasion that is “El Clasico” and most importantly of all get behind your local team – Longford Town FC!
ENJOY THE GAME.