Match Report by James Donnelly
Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup First Round
Sligo Rovers FC 0-1 Longford Town FC
11/08/18, The Showgrounds, 7.45pm
Longford Town FC dumped Sligo Rovers out of the FAI Cup in the first round for the second successive year on Friday night as Jamie Hollywoods 65th minute goal was enough to seal the victory for the Red and Black at the Showgrounds.
On a wet and windy night, De Town got some bad news before the whistle was even blown, Shane Elworthy picking up a knock and having to be replaced in the starting eleven by Tristan Noack-Hofmann.
Longford had the opening chance of the game straight from tip-off. Gaining posession, Aodh Dervin (who had a terrific game in midfield) found Dylan McGlade who turned his man and shot from inside, forcing the early save from Beeney in the Sligo goal.
Sligo could have opened the scoring only moments later when David Cawley found himself free in the box but his speculative shot from the right side took a deflection and bounced narrowly wide of the Longford goal.
Town keeper Michael Kelly was yellow carded in the 12th minute after mistakenly picking the ball up outside his own box. The resulting free came to nothing in the end but he will want to forget about that one!
Neale Fenn was forced to make another unplanned early change when Sam Verdon had to go off with what looked like a nasty ankle injury. The challenge on Verdon warranted a yellow card to be produced and the recently returned Peter Hopkins came on in place. Verdon had been performing well up to that point, winning the ball in the air to lay if off to McGlade and Meenan on the wings. Longford will hope that the injury isn't as serious as it looked as Verdon has played a key role in the hunt for promotion this season.
Rovers had a glorious opportunity to go 1-0 up on 32 minutes. A corner from McCabe was met in the air by Callan-McFadden but his header hit the cross bar and was cleared away from danger. A real let off for Longford but they can thank Michael Kelly who seemed to have gotten the slightest of touches to tip it on to the cross bar. One of many saves he would have to make throughout the night.
While Sligo pushed forward, Longford didn't give them too much time on the ball and applied pressure. Peter Hopkins went close on 40 minutes when the ball broke on the halfway line to send him clear but he never fully connected with the ball and his shot drifted wide of Beeney's post.
Longford had a shout for a penalty on 43 minutes, Jamie Hollywood on the end of a challenge just on the edge of the box. Town fans called for a peno but on inspection of the replay, it was evidently a yard or so outside the area. The resulting free from Daniel O'Reilly was straight into the hands of Beeney.
Going in 0-0 at half time, many Longford supporters were optimistic that the team could pull off another win, following on from last seasons cup win over Sligo at the City Calling Stadium.
Sligo started the second half with a purpose and could have taken the lead only a few minutes in when Mikey Drennan got free down the left hand side before turning in past Karl Chambers but his low flying shot rattled the bottom of the far post and bounced straight back into Kellys hands.
Dylan McGlade, who many were calling man of the match after another skillful display, had the opportunity to put Longford in the driving seat on 62 minutes. His long range effort stinging the hands of Beeney in goal who put it out for a corner.
Town supporters didn't have to wait long for a goal to come though. Only 3 minutes later, McGlade once again produced a moment of magic when he rounded the Sligo defender on the touch line before playing it back to Jamie Hollywood who cooly slotted it into the far corner. Beeney should have done better but full credit to Longford, they kept up the pressure and it paid off.
From then on, Rovers began to mount attack after attack. Michael Kelly, who could have gotten a look in for man of the match also, was forced to save on a number of occasions for Longford and kept the side in it. Up the other end, McGlade went close again, shooting from the right side, his curled shot was palmed away by Beeney for a corner.
While Sligo tried and tried, Longford's defence held firm. The Bit O'Red couldn't break down the back 4 and it became evident when they resorted to long balls straight up the top in the last 10 minutes. Mikey Drennan had one last chance for Sligo after he raced through on goal but Michael Kelly was there again, this time denying him with a brilliant save using his foot.
Overall, a great night for Neale Fenn and Co, who will need all the positivity and momentum they can get going into Friday night's game away against Galway United in the run in for a promotion playoff spot.
Sligo Rovers: Beeney, Twardek, Callan-McFadden, Mahon, McClean, Donelon, Cawley, McCabe (c), Lynch, Cretaro, Drennan
Subs: McGinty, Sharkey, Keaney (replaced Mahon), Wixted, McAleer (replaced Cretaro), Kerrigan, Morrison.
Longford Town: Kelly, Noack-Hofmann, O'Reilly, McDonnell, Chambers, Meenan, Zambra (c), Hollywood, Dervin, McGlade, Verdon.
Subs: Kelly, Hopkins (replaced Verdon), Ryan, O'Neill, O'Connor, Dillon, Temolo.