Saturday April 27th - City Calling Stadium
Longford Town 2 - 1 Salthill Devon
(Purdy 35, O'Sullivan 90+3)
Match report by Tony Ghee
It may have been a top versus bottom clash at City Calling Stadium last night, but league leaders Longford Town had to wait until the last minute of stoppage time before David O'Sullivan's ninth goal of the season secured a two-one victory over bottom placed Salthill Devon, a result that moves the Town six points clear of second placed Mervue United in the Airtricity First Division Table.
When these sides met on the opening day of the season in Galway, the Town romped to a five-nil victory, however, Devon were missing several key players that day, the majority of whom were in action at City Calling Stadium last night. The return of influential players such as Brian Geraghty, Derek O'Brien and dangerous striker Enda Curran to the starting eleven meant that the Town were always going to find it much harder to achieve victory.
The first real chance arrived on 24 minutes when Harty's pin-point ball released Devon lone striker Curran down the left and he turned Haverty and fired a powerful dipping shot that struck the Town crossbar. Eight minutes later, the lively Daniel Purdy cleverly wrong-footed his marker but his shot was brilliantly tipped over by Devon stopper Keane.
Longford opened the scoring in the 35th minute when Daniel Purdy's swerving 25 yard free-kick from out on the left rocketted to the net with Salthill keeper Keane rooted to the spot, however, the Town's lead was very short lived as within a minute, the visitors were level. The dangerous Derek O' Brien floated in a free from the left and Craig Harding timed his run to perfection to evade the Town defence to direct a close range downward header to the Longford net at the back post.
The teams may have been evenly matched in the opening forty-five minutes, but Longford completely dominated the second half but they just could not break down a resolute Salthill reargaurd action with their numerous chances.
The second half was just two minutes old when Willo McDonagh's towering header from a Purdy corner narrowly cleared the Devon crossbar, and then just before the hour mark, the league leaders should have regained the lead. O'Sullivan's short diagonal pass found the marauding centre-half McCarthy down the left, and he got to the end-line before his lunging low cross eventually landed at the feet of his central defensive partner McDonagh 12 yards out from goal, but McDonagh's cross across the face of the goal came back off the far post and was eventually cleared by the visitors.
In the 70th minute, Purdy went on a superb electrifying run down the left wing and his perfectly weighted cross picked out the inrushing Shaw, but just as Shaw was about to fire home from close range, Devon left-back McGlynn somehow whipped the ball of the Town Strikers toes.
Town sub Nkololo had a stinging long range shot that was too hot to handle for Devon Keeper Keane, but he recovered in the nick of time to gather the ball ahead of the lurking Town striker O'Sullivan, and Keane also saved bravely at O'Sullivan's feet on yet another Town attack earlier on.
Totally against the run of play in the 90th minute, the visitors almost stole victory on the counter, but Curran's rising shot was brilliantly saved by Town keeper Bennion.
Just when it looked as if the league leaders would have to settle for a draw, up popped O'Sullivan to slot home the winner and his ninth of the season three minutes into stoppage time. Gavin Doyle's excellent ball found O'Sullivan inside the Devon box and unlike most strikers who would have shot first time into the defenders, O'Sullivan intelligently created an angle for himself and cleverly drew the keeper before finding the gap with a low shot that hit the back of the Devon net for a dramatic late winner as the switch from 4-4-2 to three up front hit the jackpot.
Longford Town: Bennion, Haverty, McDonagh, McCarthy, Tyrell, Purdy (Isichi 75mins), Salmon, Doyle, Quinn, Shaw (Nkololo 70 mins), O'Sullivan.
Salthill Devon: Keane, Morgan (Murphy 72mins), Fadden, Geraghty, McGlynn, Gaffney, Harty, Gaul, O'Brien, Harding, Curran (Collins 90mins).