Fri Jul 26th 2013
Anyone who has followed Longford Town this season will tell you it has been one of the most if not the most unpredictable seasons in the clubs history. After yet another shock turnaround in Cobh last weekend, one we were on the wrong end of this time, anything but a win against Mervue United simply won't do. Here to preview this mega encounter at the top of the division is our reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_).
With Longford Town challenging for promotion this season it is no surprise the majority of the clubs games in 2013 have been described as “must wins” or “one of the biggest games of the season”. However, this Saturday night at The City Calling Stadium the stakes are truly higher than ever as the league leaders look to fend off the extremely strong challenges being laid down by Athlone Town, Waterford United and this weekend’s opponents Mervue United.
After last week’s defeat in Cobh where “De Town” lead 3-1 with fifteen minutes to go the “Midlanders” came out on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline as two spotkicks and two late goals left LTFC just one point clear at the top of the First Division table. That one point lead could very well be a two point deficit come kick-off on Saturday night as closest promotion rivals Athlone Town (2nd) and Waterford United (3rd) go head to head at the RSC the night before. Should Roddy Collins men claim a vital away win in that crunch encounter it will leave the Lissywoolen outfit top for at least twenty-four hours with just nine league games remaing in the second tier of Irish football.
Sneaking up on the chasing pack in recent weeks has been last season’s second bottom placed side, Mervue United. Johnny Glynn’s men have defied the doubters who said his side would drop off the pace all season long but with just ten games to go this season the Galwaymen find themselves only seven points behind this weekend’s hosts while a play-off position is just one point away from their grasps.
With so many young players in the United squad you would expect it to be a daunting task for them to come to the home of the league leaders at this stage of the season but not for this group of players who have proven in their previous two encounters with Longford already this season that they are more than capable of mixing it with the best the league has to offer.
In fact many people feel Mervue were extremely unlucky to not come away with at least one victory over “De Town” this season having put in a pristine performance during the 1-1 draw in Longford back in April while the most recent league meeting at Fahy’s Field just two months ago saw the home side throw away a 1-0 lead against a ten-man Longford Town side who somehow managed to find two late goals to claim all three points.
The fact that Mervue United come into this huge game off the back of humiliating Finn Harps 4-0 last Friday night must surely give Johnny Glynn’s men confidence in causing an upset at the top this weekend.
In terms of the men to watch at the Strokestown Road venue during this vital league game all eyes will once again be on one of Irish footballs most promising prospects in Ryan Manning following the sixteen-year-olds man of the match performance at home to Harps last time out. Manning’s strike partner of late has been former Dundalk man Gary Shanahan who should be familiar to some Longford Town fans as he scored for Dundalk against Longford in last season’s EA Sports Cup tie at the then named Flancare Park. Also familiar to the Longford Town faithful will be midfielders Tom ing and Gary Curran who have both previously worn the Red and Black of Town. The fact that King was only a substitute for United last weekend just goes to show some of the quality talents Johnny Glynn has to call on with Paul Sinnott, Jason Molloy and Noel Varley all well known names to League of Ireland supporters.
With a tough trip to Wexford next up on the cards for Longford followed by the biggest “El Clasico” of the season so far in just three weeks time this Saturday’s game at the City Calling Stadium really is one the league leaders can afford no slip ups in and for that very reason we would ask for Longford Town supporters young and old to get out to the game and get behind the team from first whistle to last because as we seen in Cobh last weekend anything can happen and the lads really do need our support, kick-off this Saturday evening is 7-30pm.