With just seven leagues games remaining in the 2013 Airtricty league First Division season every encounter now becomes a cup final for the teams chasing promotion. Longford Town are one of those teams chasing that honour and on Saturday night they host Salthill Devon in a season defining game at The City Calling Stadium. Here to preview the game is our reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_):
Second placed Longford Town will look to use their fantastic second half performance against Athlone Town from one week ago as a starting block for tonight's must win game against bottom side Salthill Devon.
Tony Cousins promotion chasers absolutely dominated their midland rivals in the second period at The City Calling Stadium last week but a combination of poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping stopped ''De Town'' from not only claiming all three points but reclaiming their lead at the top of Irish footballs second tier. A deflected Barry Clancy free kick in the first half was enough for Roddy Collins men to leave Longford with the spoils and in turn build a five point lead over the ''Red and Black''.
However, one win is all that might be needed to spark a run of results between now and the final game of the season in Athlone that could see Longford in a prime position for a return to the promised land of Premier Division football.
Just one win from seven games in the third series of league games saw ''De Town'' surrender their 118 day lead at the top of the table and many supporters still point to the 94th minute penalty scored by Salthill at the Drom to snatch what would have been a huge victory away from Longford. However, since that 1-1 draw in Galway, Devon have lost their two top stars in Derek O'Brien (now with Longford) and Enda Curran (now of Athlone) who's partnership caused so many problems for opposition throughout the season.
The other two encounters between the sides this season couldn't have been more contrasting games with Longford needed a 94th minute goal of their own through David O'Sullivan back in April to claim a 2-1 win despite having won ye opening game of the season in Galway 5-0 with Sullivan notching a hat-trick on his League of Ireland debut!
Suspensions and injuries were a driving factor behind that humiliating opening day defeat for the Devon but since then Tony Mannion has done a superb job in organising his troops and making them hard to beat and that has shown in the last two head to head meetings.
Mannion will have to do without the services of Michael Harty and Willie Enubele tonight through suspension while we have already mentioned the great loss of O'Brien and Curran, so it will be extremely interesting to see if the Devon boss can organise his team into a rigid unit that can frustrate the attacking talents of 'De Town' for the full 90 plus minutes.
It was fantastic to see and hear such a large crowd at The City Calling Stadium for the Midlands derby last Saturday. However, this weekends game against Salthill Devon is as important as any ''De Town'' will play this season so we really are urging the entire Longford footballing public to get behind the team for this must win game. Kick-off is 7-30pm and tickets are superb value at €10 for adults, €8 for students and just €5 for kids. See you there!