Shamrock Rovers AFC...2
(O'Sullivan x2, Town win 3-1 on pens)
LTFC.ie reporter, Kieran Burke (@burko77_) reports on Longford Town FC's first competitive game of the 2014 season from Fr.Murphy Park, Enniscorthy:
Longford Town FC kicked off their 2014 season with a penalty shoot-out victory away to Shamrock Rovers AFC of the Wexford senior league on Saturday afternoon.
A brace from last season's first division top goalscorer, David O'Sullivan was not enough to settle the game within normal or extra-time as a highly competitive Rovers team came from behind twice to force a 2-2 draw before missing out on a huge cup scalp on the dreaded penalty lottery.
Enniscorthy based Rovers showed their intent in the opening passage of play on home soil, or mud as was the case with dreadful weather conditions putting the game in doubt pre-match, as their number 10 races forward from the kick-off and was only denied a certain goal by a last ditch tackle from a Longford centre-half.
''De Town'' used that scare to push on and look to take a hold of the game and they did that by smashing the woodwork no less than three times in the first half before David O'Sullivan turned home the opener after Peter Hynes effort had come off the crossbar.
A fabulous save from Longford's 'keeper on the day, Paul Hunt, kept Town in a positive position as he somehow managed to shuffle across his line and palm away a bullet header from what was one of many towering players in the Hoops starting line up.
However, it was a blunder from the otherwise excellent Hunt that allowed Rovers back into the game as he misjudged a low driven cross into his six-yard box before spilling the ball straight into the path of a grateful striker who tapped home.
The First Division title favourites for 2014 would regain their lead shortly after half-time when the excellent, David O'Sullivan won and tucked away a penalty following a killer through ball from, a sharp looking, Rhys Gorman to give Town a 2-1 advantage in Enniscorthy.
But last season's Wexford league champions just wouldn't lie down and with roughly twenty minutes remaining the equalised from a corner as once again the Hoops height and strength shone through against a Town team playing their very first game of pre-season.
The remainder of normal time was physical and competitive to say the least as Longford introduced Lorcan Shannon and Don Cowan to try and swing the tie in their favour and despite a hugely impressive impact from former Bohemians winger, Shannon, the game would have to be decided from twelve yards thanks to some excellent last ditch defending and goalkeeping from the home side. This included what can only be described as a miraculous save from a point blank William Tyrell header.
Up first for the shoot-out was the returning Don Cowan who made no mistake with his penalty, smashing it into the top corner of the net to put early pressure on the Wexford side. That pressure told as the Hoops missed their opening spot kick by a country mile. However, Captain on the day, Stephen Rice could not capitalise as he unluckily saw his effort skim wide off the butt of the post before Shamrock Rovers AFC drew level. Lorcan Shannon was next to convert from a muddy penalty area before Paul Hunt pulled out a magnificent save prior to David O'Sullivan's second successful penalty of the day leaving Rovers with the pressure of a must score spot kick but a second wide effort of the shoot-out saw Longford Town FC advance to the next round on their return to competitive football for 2014!
LTFC line up: Hunt, Haverty, P. Sullivan (G. O'Connor), Tyrell, Rice (C), Gorman, Deans, O'Connor (Shannon), Shaw, D. O'Sullivan, Hynes (Cowan)