Longford Town slumped to their first defeat in three games as the standard of match officials in the Airtricity League was called into question yet again. On the balance of play Cork City probably deserved the victory in the First Division clash at Flancare Park on Saturday evening last but two events in the early stages of the second half definitely changed this game.
After the Town had got back on level terms just before half-time a dreadful decision in the 55th minute saw the visitors go back in front. Female assistant referee Michelle O’Neill failed to raise her flag for Daryl Horgan who was blatantly offside. The youngster went through on goal and made no mistake to grab his second goal of the game, much to the annoyance of the Town players, bench and supporters. Cork manager Tommy Dunne admitted after the game that his side got lucky with that decision.
It got worse for the Town one minute later when they were reduced to 10 men. Gary Cronin let his frustrations boil over and was shown two yellow cards in quick succession for remonstrating with referee Sean Grant about the goal.
It was a bad blow for the Town and one they just couldn’t recover from. With the numerical advantage Cork went on to dominate the remainder of the game and grabbed their third goal in the 72nd minute when Gearoid Morrissey volleyed home.
The Town didn’t really threaten and couldn’t find a way of getting back into the game. In the 80th minute Thomas Crawley, who started his first game for Longford, skipped past Cork full-back Neal Horgan and forced keeper Mark McNulty into making a fine save.
The Town made a bright start to the game and in the 10th minute Craig Walsh’s corner from the right was parried by Cork keeper McNulty and went out for another corner. One minute later Keith Gillespie tried his luck but his low drive was well off target.
Cork began to come into the game and in the 13th minute Graham Cummins cut inside but his shot was blocked by Town defender Chris Deans. That was to be a warning sign for the home side but one they didn’t heed and three minutes later the visitors broke the deadlock.
A corner from the left by Morrissey was flicked on by Graham Cummins and was deflected into the net by Daryl Horgan. The winger actually knew very little about it.
Cork were boosted by that goal and four minutes later Derek O’Brien brought a fine save out of Town keeper Paul Hunt. The visitors took complete control and the only chance that came Longford’s way was in the 30th minute but Cowan‘s effort sailed over the bar.
Hunt was called into action again in the 44th minute, making two excellent saves to keep the Town in the game. First he was tested again by O’Brien and then the loose ball fell to goalscorer Horgan but the Town netminder produced an excellent stop to deny Cork from scoring a second goal.
Craig Walsh was unlucky with his shot in the 45th minute and after being outplayed for a lot of the first half the Town levelled matters right on the stroke of half-time. Gavin Kavanagh brought down Don Cowan in the box and up stepped Mark Salmon to blast the penalty past McNulty.
With the game evenly poised at half-time it was all to play for in the second half. With five minutes gone on the changeover, the Town had a chance to take the lead. Cowan got into the box but his shot was too high and it just went over.
Disaster struck for Longford soon after when Cork City regained the lead with that offside goal and then Cronin was sent off. Those two decisions ended up having a huge bearing on the final result.
LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Hunt, Graham Dowling, Chris Deans, Des Hope, Gary Cronin, Keith Gillespie, Mark Salmon, Craig Walsh, Cathal Brady, Don Cowan, Thomas Crawley.
Subs:- Michael Lee for Brady (60 mins); Austin Skelly for Gillespie (70 mins); Jean Biansumba for Cowan (77 mins).
CORK CITY: Mark McNulty, Neal Horgan, Gavin Kavanagh, Stephen Mulcahy, Danny Murphy, Daryl Horgan, Gearoid Morrissey, Shane Duggan, Derek O’Brien, Davin O’Neill, Graham Cummins.
Subs:- Greg O’Halloran for D Horgan (71 mins); Vinny Sullivan for O’Brien (71 mins); Kalen Spillane for N Horgan (86 mins).
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford).