Match Preview by James Donnelly
Longford Town FC v Shelbourne FC
Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup 2nd Round
Saturday 25th August 2018 / 7.30pm / City Calling Stadium
Longford Town FC welcome Owen Heary's Shelbourne to the City Calling Stadium on Saturday night for the Second Round of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup. In what is sure to be a high tempo game, Neale Fenn and Longford will be seeking revenge after suffering a heavy loss at Tolka Park in the league only a few weeks ago.
Shelbourne took on Athlone at home in the first round. Gifted their first goal through an OG from Athlone's Nika Kalandarishvili, Shels went on to score 3 more in the second half to go through convincingly. Athlone kept Shels at bay with a limited number of chances in the first half with Greg Moorehouse causing problems for the midlands side. Paddy Kavanagh got Shels' second on the hour mark when he easily tapped in from close range after being left unmarked in the box. The North Dublin side followed this up with Moorehouse getting on the scoresheet on 84 minutes followed by Lorcan Fitzgerald in injury time to make it 4-0. A comfortable win for Shelbourne who now know they face a tougher challenge on Saturday night when they come to the Strokestown Road venue.
Longford faced a tougher task in the opening round of this cup, travelling to the Showgrounds to take on Sligo Rovers. Having knocked out Sligo in the same round of the competition this time last year, Neale Fenn and co had nothing but confidence going into the game. Maybe it was a bit of naivety on Rovers part but they didn't take the challenge of Longford seriously and ended up losing 1-0 to De Town. Dylan McGlade and goalkeeper Michael Kelly were the stars of the show but it was Jamie Hollywood's vital goal that sent Longford through to the next round. Town had to do without the ever present Sam Verdon (who is out for the season now) after he went off injured in the opening 20 minutes and was replaced by Peter Hopkins who performed greatly but then picked up an injury of his own.
The previous meetings between Longford and Shelbourne have been fiery encounters this season and not without controversy or incidents. Back in March, Shels ran out 3-2 winners thanks to hat-trick from former Town star Daivd O'Sullivan. In a game marred with controversy, Shels took the lead early when former Town player Shane O'Connor brought down O'Sullivan in the box who was awarded a penalty to which he easily dispatched past Kelly in goal. Sam Verdon equalised for Longford only a minute later when he capitalized on a loose ball at the edge of the box to drill home our first goal. Shels got their second on 72 minutes when O'Sullivan got between O'Reilly and McDonnell and headed home to put the home side in control again. Town were reduced to 10 men when Dylan McGlade was sent off for an off the ball altercation minutes later. Not to be undone, Sam Verdon got his second of the night and De Town's equalizer on 87 minutes when in a similar position, Verdon pounced on a loose ball to blast it into the net. The controversy wasn't over yet. Late into injury time, Shelbourne were awarded a penalty after Peter Hopkins was deemed to have handled the ball in the box. A harsh decision considering he was on the ground already and was trying to manoeuvre out of the way. Sam Verdon was then sent off for a second yellow for dissent and David O'Sullivan rounded off his hat-trick by converting the penalty. A tough result for Longford to take but a game many felt they should have won.
The league game just under a month ago in July was not without it's moments also. A game that Shelbourne won comfortably on a flattering 6-1 scoreline, Town had to play with 10 men for the majority of the second half after former Shelbourne player Jamie Doyle was given a straight red for dissent. Trailing 1-0 at half time thanks to a Dave Mulcahy header on the half hour mark, Longford failed to take their chances, Jamie Doyle going close on a number of occasions along with Sam Verdon and Dylan McGlade. The second half saw Longford come out on the attack and it wasn't long before the equaliser came. Sam Verdon tapping in from close range after a Michael McDonnell header wasn't dealt with by the Shels defence. Shels took the lead again on 68 minutes when new signing Karl Moore found space on the left side after a cross and easily slipped it past Kelly in goal. Shels got their third goal through David O'Sullivan only 2 minutes later. Daniel O'Reilly was working it out from the back when he chose to turn right and lay it off to the waiting Sam Verdon. Somehow, referee John McLaughlin ended up in the path of the ball, it ricocheted off him and into the path of a Shels player who then slipped O'Sullivan in behind the defence and he made no mistake in scoring although Michael Kelly did get a hand to it. The games next controversial moment came soon after when Jamie Doyle was given a straight red for dissent. Doyle, who won a challenge clearly, was deemed to have fouled a Shels man and immediately showed his frustration at the decision. Up until that stage, Longford still had a good chance of getting something from the game. With the extra man, Shelbourne took full advantage and went on the attack. 3 more goals for the Dublin side, Karl Moore got two more to get his hat-trick and a soft penalty awarded in the dying moments saw James English get in on the action. Throughout all the madness, Assistant Manager Daire Doyle was sent to the stands also and will only return to the dugout on Saturday night after serving his suspension.
Longford go into Saturdays game off the back off a fantastic 4-1 away win over Galway United. A game that De Town were never in danger of losing from the get go, the returning Jamie Doyle scored twice along with Dylan McGlade who stamped his mark on top scorer of the season. Jamie Hollywood went off injured late into the second half with what looked like a nasty injury so he is doubtful for the game.
Shelbourne come to the City Calling Stadium following a 2-1 victory away to Wexford last week. Wexford took the lead but two goals in the second half from Greg Moorehouse saw the Red's leave Ferrycarrig with all three points.
If we go by this season alone, Saturday's game will no doubt be another entertaining clash. Town will have to do without the pivotal Sam Verdon who is now on the injury list along with Dean Byrne while Jamie Hollywood and Peter Hopkins remain doubtful.
Longford last won the FAI Cup back in 2004, a second cup title in successive years while the last time De Town competed in the final for the Cup was a 2007 loss to Cork. Shels last won the Cup way back in 2000. Both teams will be looking to continue on a good cup run as the league winds down. With only a few games remaining, Shels are only 4 points ahead of Longford in the hunt for a play off promotion spot.