Longford Town win again to consolidate top spot

Jamie Duffy’s first half goal was enough to give First Division leaders Longford Town their 10th league win in 12 games but they were made work hard for the valuable three points by bottom side SD Galway at Flancare Park on Friday night last.

Duffy got onto the end of Town keeper Craig Hyland’s long kick-out in the 18th minute to head past the advancing SD keeper Liam Grant. It was the midfielder’s first goal for the club since his return at the start of the season.

But instead of creating the chances to try and add to the goal the Town struggled to get a grasp on the game and as the first half wore on it was the visitors who took control and created several scoring opportunities but were thwarted by Longford keeper Hyland.

In a rather scrappy opening it was the visitors who had the early chances with striker Enda Curran forcing two good saves out of Hyland inside the opening 10 minutes. Town began to come into the game and forced two corners in a row. In the 10th minute Gary Shaw flicked the ball into the path of Duffy but his shot was deflected out for a corner by Eric Browne. Keith Gillespie’s corner found the head of defender Des Hope but his effort was headed off the line by Cian Fadden and out for another corner which came to nothing.

In the 16th minute Curran threatened again. Alan Kirby lost possession and the ball was picked up by Mike Tierney; he played it into Curran who decided to take a shot with Hyland out of the goals but the danger was cleared by Hope.

Two minutes later and the deadlock was broken; Hyland’s long kick-out caught everyone but Duffy by surprise and he headed home. It was all Longford after that but they failed to create anything really of note in their efforts to increase the advantage.

11 minutes before the break the game livened up with chances for both sides. Shaw should have doubled Longford’s advantage in the 34th minute when the striker got onto the end of a long ball over the top but unfortunately for him his shot was off target.

Down the other end Browne forced Hyland into making a fine save. In the 38th minute the Town netminder made two good saves in quick succession; Ronan Conlon’s free-kick from the left was punched away by the keeper, and the ball fell to Luke McConnell who decided to try his luck from about 30 yards out but Hyland did well to get down and push the ball out for a corner.

Four minutes into the second half Keith Gillespie was unlucky not to score his first goal for the club. The midfielder has been in outstanding form this season and the goal would have been just reward for him; unfortunately for him his strike went just wide. In the 64th minute Shaw forced Grant into making a save with a snapshot from just outside the box.

After the contribution he made when brought on in the Town’s previous game in Waterford, Austin Skelly very nearly scored again when he was introduced. Five minutes after he came on for Shaw, the striker was unlucky to see his header from a Gillespie free-kick just go wide.

But Longford had a real lucky escape when Hyland pulled off a fantastic save in the 73rd minute to deny Curran from snatching an equaliser after the SD Galway striker got past two Town defenders.

In the 77th minute Alan Kirby squandered the best chance of the game. Mark Salmon did very well to get down to the endline and play the ball back to Kirby who completely missed it when right in front of goals.

Both sides had half-chances in the final few minutes but the Town held on for another win to consolidate their four point lead at the top of the table. Next weekend Longford take a break from league action and travel to Dublin on Sunday to take on Cherry Orchard in the FAI Cup.

LONGFORD TOWN: Craig Hyland; Noel Haverty, Jeff Flood, Des Hope, Thomas Crawley; Jamie Duffy, Keith Gillespie, Mark Salmon, Alan Kirby; Karl Bermingham, Gary Shaw.

Subs:- Austin Skelly for Shaw (65 mins); Colm James for Duffy (69 mins); Michael Lee for Bermingham (84 mins).

SD GALWAY: Liam Grant; Eugene Greaney, Cian Fadden, Eric Browne, Tommy Bradshaw; Michael Tierney, Ronan Conlon, Willie Enubele, Luke McConnell, Timmy Molloy; Enda Curran.

Subs:- James Whelan for Tierney (77 mins); Charlie Burke for Conlon (87 mins); Gerry Dolan for Enubele (87 mins).

Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford).