Longford’s lead cut as they slump to rivals Athlone

Josh O'Hanlon on the attack for Longford Town against Athlone Town on Friday evening at the Athlone Town Stadium in the League of Ireland First Division. Pic: Ray Donlon
Longford Town’s lead at the top of the table was cut to six points when they were beaten by their great rivals Athlone Town in the El Clasico De Midlands on Friday night last.

Longford Town’s lead at the top of the table was cut to six points when they were beaten by their great rivals Athlone Town in the El Clasico De Midlands on Friday night last.

Athlone were the better side throughout while Longford were woeful and never got into the game at all. Athlone’s defence marshalled Longford’s leading marksman David O’Sullivan very well while their front two of Philly Gorman and Garbhan Coughlan ran Longford’s defence ragged.

Longford should’ve broken the deadlock in the 6th minute; Keith Gillespie played a perfect pass to the Keith Quinn but his curling effort went narrowly wide. Three minutes later Athlone took the lead; Barry Clancy flicked the ball onto Gorman who lobbed Chris Bennion who was well off his line.

Athlone were buoyed by that goal and went in search of their second and they dominated proceedings. Longford had a chance in the 22nd minute but Gary Shaw couldn’t get his header on target from David O’Neill’s cross. In the 28th minute they came close to levelling matters but Daniel Purdy’s free-kick went the wrong side of the bottom post.

The home side had a great chance of doubling their advantage in the 41st minute but Clancy’s powerful free from about 40 yards out was pushed over the bar by Bennion.

Athlone looked threatening nearly every time they went forward and eight minutes after the break Bennion pulled off a good save to deny James O’Brien who was in on goal. Down the other end Mark Salmon’s rasping shot forced Paul Skinner into making a save.

In the 61st minute Athlone got their second; Willie Tyrrell bundled over Coughlan in the box and Gorman coolly dispatched the spot-kick.

Athlone continued to press while Longford lived off scraps. In the 77th minute Coughlan hit a shot which Bennion was able to get down to. Purdy was then guilty of being wasteful one minute later hitting a tame shot at Skinner.

The game then petered out as a contest with Athlone holding firm while Longford failed to create anything that would bring them back into the game. This result makes for an interesting second-half to the season which resumes on June 28th.

Athlone Town: Paul Skinner; Roddy Collins Jnr, Aidan Collins, Robbie Clarke, Neil Harney; Mark Hughes, Garvan Broughall, James O’Brien, Barry Clancy; Garbhan Coughlan, Philly Gorman.

Subs: Niall Scullion for Hughes (66mins)

Longford Town: Chris Bennion; David O’Neil, Corie Tracey, Willie Tyrrell; Gary Shaw, Mark Salmon, Keith Gillespie, Daniel Purdy; Keith Quinn; David O’Sullivan.

Subs: Gavin Doyle for Gillespie and Josh O’Hanlon for Quinn (59mins), Rhys Gorman for Salmon inj (70mins)

Referee: Adriano Reale (Kildare)