Wed Apr 17th 2013
LTFC.ie reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_) previews Saturday night's local derby at City Calling Stadium, the game known as "El Clasicco De Midlands" between Longford Town and Athlone Town.
Longford Town go into Saturday nights “El Clasico De Midlands” knowing a win will see them end series one on top of the Airtricity League First Division.
A heroic ten man performance away to Wexford last Friday saw “De Town” leave Ferrycarrig Park with a 1-0 victory in the bag and an increased lead at the top of four points after nearest rivals Mervue United and Finn Harps both lost to Cobh Ramblers and Athlone Town respectively.
That win for Athlone in Lissywoolen last weekend saw them move onto nine points, only behind Finn Harps and Mervue United on goal difference, meaning a win against their great rivals tonight could see Roddy Collins' men move into the play-off positions.
A Garbhan Coughlan goal was enough to give Athlone victory over the only side to defeat Longford this season and that stat will give the away side great confidence coming into Saturday night’s game at City Calling Stadium.
However, Longford now go into every game knowing they stand a chance of outscoring any opposition with the formidable David O’Sullivan bringing his goals total to seven in six games for “De Town” and the fact that he could have had a hat-trick despite playing against an extra defender in Wexford last weekend just shows the danger he will pose to the Athlone defence in what will be his first taste of the derby.
Throughout the years one factor that has added extra spice to this rivalry is the fact that many players switch alliances and end up facing their former side and that will be the case again this weekend with Chris Bennion, Brian McCarthy, Des Hope and Mark Salmon all in the current Longford Town fold while Aidan Collins will be in the Blue and Black of Athlone as opposed to the Red and Black stripes he wore last season.
While Athlone will be well aware of the threat posed by O’Sullivan you can be certain Tony Cousins will have taken a close look at, on loan St.Pat’s midfielder, Ryan Coombes who is one of the country’s top young talents having appeared at the Strokestown road venue earlier this year for the Republic of Ireland under-19’s against the Czech Republic, scoring in the first of the two games played between the nations.
For the first time in quite a few derby’s, Athlone Town fans will not be able to look towards the goals of deadly striker, Noel McGee who is struggling with a hamstring but the present pairing of Philly Gorman and Garbhan Coughlan is an experienced one and Longford’s back four will have to be on their toes if they are to avoid a slip up at home against one of their closest rivals.
One thing is for sure with these “Clasico’s” that they are always fiercely contested, tight and often nervy affairs with most encounters going right down to the final kick so if you are looking for some local excitement on Saturday night there is no better place to be than City Calling Stadium with kick-off at 7.30pm.
GET OUT AND SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL TEAM!