The countdown to the new season continues on Tuesday night as Longford Town FC travel the short distance to the Showgrounds in Sligo with Ian Baraclough’s “Bit O’ Red” sure to provide a stern test to the Midlanders as always. Here to preview the game for us all is our reporter, Kieran Burke (@burko77_):
The Showgrounds in County Sligo is the latest stop on Longford Town FC’s pre-season schedule as Tony Cousins side take on last season’s FAI Ford Cup Champions, Sligo Rovers in an N4 derby of sorts.
Philly Gorman yet again proved to be the difference between local rivals, Longford and Athlone Town on Friday night gone by as the number nines first half strike sealed Mick Cooke’s men a 1-0 victory at The City Calling Stadium in horrendous weather conditions. While results are far from the be all and end all at this time of year, “De Town” will be looking to bounce back and secure a big Premier Division scalp on Tuesday night against Ian Baraclough’s men.
Sligo Rovers will be on somewhat of a redemption path themselves when they entertain their near neighbours following a somewhat surprising derby defeat to old foes of sort, Galway FC in a recent pre-season friendly. While the 2012 Airtricity League Champions scored three on the night, they conceded five to the men in maroon and this will have been a huge concern to followers of the “Bit O’ Red” especially having seen quite a few quality players depart the Showgrounds during the off-season with David McMillan, Lee Lynch and Aviva Stadium hero, Anthony Elding the most notable of departures.
However, one thing that will always remain certain under the stewardship of Rovers boss, Ian Baraclough is the style of football and the emphasis on good ball retention and the additions of John Russell from Champions, St.Patrick’s Athletic and Paul O’Conor, goalscorer for Drogheda United against Sligo in last Novembers thrilling cup final, should see that style of play as attractive as ever with both midfielders highly adept in the art of passing football.
Tony Cousins looks set to rotate his squad again ahead of this one as his backroom staff look to get a creditable amount of game time under everyone’s belt, including the recently called up under-nineteen team players who have thrown their names into the hat for more game time throughout the year with some solid performances both in training and on match days by all accounts.
The most recent meeting between the sides came in the pre-season campaign of 2012, as goals from Raf Cretaro (2) and Danny North gave the Champions to be that season a comfortable 3-0 win on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Midlands. You have to go all the way back to 2007 for the last league meeting between Longford Town and Sligo Rovers, a game that ended one a piece at the then named, Flancare Park with a certain Dave Mooney on the scoresheet for the hosts in a season which saw “De Town” relegated by the slightest and most painful of margins.
This coming season is all about making fixtures against the likes of Sligo Rovers, St.Patrick’s Athletic and Derry City more regular affairs for Longford as Tony Cousins and co. look to secure promotion back to the top table of Irish football and it is games like this that will help keep “De Town” in top condition ahead of the big kick-off on March 7th, away to Sligo’s newest local rivals, Galway FC.
Kick-off at The Showgrounds on Tuesday evening is 7-30pm.