It was third time lucky for Longford Town as they knocked their neighbouring rivals Athlone out of the EA Sports Cup, winning the preliminary round clash at Flancare Park on Monday night last with considerable comfort.
EA SPORTS CUP - LONGFORD TOWN 2, ATHLONE TOWN 1
In the past two seasons it was Athlone who ended Longford’s interest in the League Cup competition but Longford made amends on this occasion. The home side dominated the possession in the first half but failed to convert the many chances that fell their way.
Graham Dowling headed against the crossbar in the 16th minute after connecting with Craig Walsh’s free kick and soon after Aidan Roche brought a fine save out of Athlone keeper Michael Schlingermann.
Paddy Collins was then denied by Schlingermann but it was only a matter of time before Longford’s pressure would pay off and they finally broke the deadlock in the 31st minute. Don Cowan was fouled about 20 yards out and up stepped Craig Walsh to curl a brilliantly struck free-kick past the Athlone netminder.
As half-time approached the Athlone goal led a charmed life as Longford continued to press but were unlucky on a few occasions not to double their advantage.
But another goal for the home side eventually materialised 13 minutes into the second half. Michael Lee played a neat ball into the path of Don Cowan and he found the back of the net with an excellent strike.
Totally against the run of play Athlone pulled a goal back in the 78th minute. Kevin Williamson’s corner reached the head of Alan Coffey and the normally reliable Longford keeper Alvin Rouse let the ball spill through his hands and into the net.
That was clearly a cause for some concern for Town manager Tony Cousins but his side consolidated their firm grip on the game in earning another home fixture against UCD in the next round of the EA Sports Cup on Monday March 28th.
LONGFORD TOWN: Alvin Rouse, Graham Dowling, Paddy Collins, Chris Deans, Michael Lee, Cathal Brady, Thomas Hyland, Mark Salmon, Craig Walsh, Aidan Roche, Don Cowan.
Subs:- Jason Oladele for Roche (69 mins); Gary Cronin for Salmon (75 mins).
ATHLONE TOWN: Michael Schlingermann, Joe Woods, Jamie Carr, Tommy Barrett, Paul Danaher, Stephen Relihan, Kevin Williamson, Niall Scullion, Brian Gill, Robbie Murphy, Colm Smith.
Subs:- Alan Coffey for Gill and Roy King for Smith (60 mins); Ronan Stack for Woods (83 mins).
Referee: Darren Coombes (Dublin).