Longford Town will rue not putting away their chances as they were held to a draw by Drogheda United in letting victory slip from their grasp at City Calling Stadium on Saturday evening last, watched by the official attendance of 471.
The point though saw them move back into the top half of the Premier Division table. After losing their previous two games, the Town had to get something out of this game against a side just one point behind them.
After Drogheda levelled in the 68th minute, Longford tried in vain to regain the lead but United netminder Michael Schlingermann thwarted them on a number of occasions; pulling off two excellent saves to deny Kevin O’Connor and substitute David O’Sullivan.
Tony Cousins made several changes to the side that lost 4-1 to Cork City the previous weekend; most surprising was Rhys Gorman being dropped to the bench.
The Town lost striker Dean Kelly through injury after only three minutes but the manager decided to bring on Mark Salmon instead of David O’Sullivan and opted to play one up front; Gary Shaw.
O’Sullivan was introduced for Salmon in the closing stages of the game and was lively when he came in. Good news for Town fans was that Don Cowan was back in action after injury while Pat Flynn is about two weeks away from a return.
In a scrappy first half it was referee Jim McKell who was very much the centre of attention. In the 20th minute Alan Byrne brought down Gary Shaw on the edge of the box and was shown a yellow card. One minute later the same player pulled down Shaw in the box but avoided another booking and the Town were denied a penalty.
Longford had taken the lead in the 9th minute when Ayman Ben Mohamed’s cross from the right was finished to the net by Kaleem Simon. Ben Mohamed had created a chance for Salmon in the 7th minute but the midfielder blasted his effort over the bar.
After creating very little in terms of chances, Drogheda had a great opportunity to draw level but Tiarnan Mulvenna’s shot came off the crossbar.
Four minutes into the second half the visitors had another chance for the equaliser when Stephen Rice took down Sean Thornton in the box, who stepped up to take the penalty but blasted the ball over the bar.
Salmon had a chance for the Town minutes later but his tame shot was easily saved by Schlingermann. Drogheda drew level in the 68th minute when substitute Ger Pender played the ball into Lee Duffy and he raced through to fire a shot through the legs of Town keeper Paul Hunt.
After that setback Longford piled on the pressure as they tried to regain the lead. Salmon set up Kevin O’Connor in the 71st minute but his shot produced an excellent save from Schlingermann.
The competent Drogheda keeper was called into action again in the 79th minute, this time superbly saving David O’Sullivan’s volley. O’Sullivan had another chance for the winner in the 82nd minute but his low drive just went wide as the Town had to settle for a share of the spoils.
LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Hunt; Jamie Mulhall, Pat Sullivan, Conor Powell, Martin Deady; Ayman Ben Mohamed, Kevin O’Connor, Stephen Rice, Kaleem Simon; Dean Kelly, Gary Shaw.
Subs:- Mark Salmon for Kelly (injured, 3 mins); David O’Sullivan for Salmon (74 mins); Don Cowan for Ben Mohamed (77 mins).
DROGHEDA UNITED: Michael Schlingermann; Mick Daly, Alan Byrne, Robert O’Reilly, Joe Gorman; Tiarnan Mulvenna, Mark Hughes, Sean Thornton, Jason Marks; Sean Brennan; Lee Duffy.
Subs:- Ger Pender for Marks (59 mins); Stephen Maher for Hughes (81 mins); Robert Bayly for Brennan (87 mins).
Referee: Jim McKell