Match Preview by Kieran Burke (@KieranBTS)
Longford Town will be looking to avoid a potential banana skin when they host an awkward Wexford FC side in the SSE Airtricity League First Division tonight, kick-off is at 7.30pm.
Despite sitting bottom of the second tier at present, Wexford FC have dramatically improved on their showings from last season, when heavy beatings and an uncompetitive nature were regular occurrences for the South-East based outfit. This year, under the watch of rookie manager Brian O'Sullivan, Wexford FC have been more than competitive, even against sides that dwarf the amateurs of Wexford in terms of budget and resources. You only have to ask Bray Wanderers, who Wexford turned over earlier this season how big of a danger underestimating this side can be.
That win over Bray is just one of two for O'Sullivan's team this season with the other victory coming at home to Athlone Town, who sit just two points ahead of Wexford ahead of the latest round of First Division fixtures.
As for the hosts, Longford Town come into this latest home fixture off the back of a nervy win over Galway United on Bank Holiday Monday, as Neale Fenn's troops appeared to take their foot off the gas in the second half, almost costing the Midlanders a vital three points. First half goals from Dean Byrne & Sam Verdon were enough to ensure Galway's second half strike was nothing more than a conciliation but Fenn is sure to demand a more consistent showing across the ninety-minutes from his players tonight.
Underestimation of Wexford FC simply won't be a concern for the Town management, given the major fright Longford received in the first meeting away to Wexford earlier this season. Going behind to a Danny Furlong goal, Town eventually rallied late to come away from Ferrycarrig Park with a crucial 2-1 victory but to say it wasn't pretty would be a major understatement.
That result was built off determination, belief and character and while those attributes are of the upmost importance for any side with title ambitions, a more assured performance from a Town team, who will enter the game as heavy favourites, would be more than welcomed by the home faithful.
With league leaders, Shelbourne away to Bray Wanderers at 3pm today, Longford Town's players will already know ahead of kick-off if they can go top of the table with a win tonight, however, with just Bray Wanderers to face (away) before the mid-season break, no team with title ambitions can afford to lose ground at this vital stage of the season.
Action pic from Town's 2-1 victory at Ferrycarrig Park, earlier this season. Pic: Ken Keenan