Home to Athlone in big game on Saturday

City Calling stadium should house a very big crowd on Saturday night next when top of the table Longford Town play near neighbours Athlone in what should be a very exciting game.

City Calling stadium should house a very big crowd on Saturday night next when top of the table Longford Town play near neighbours Athlone in what should be a very exciting game.

After last weekend’s fabulous result from Ferrycarrig Park the Town now sit on top of the table on 13 points while Athlone, Finn Harps and Mervue United are all joint second on nine points.

Over the years local derbies have a habit of producing some crazy results and let’s hope that it doesn’t happen again on Saturday night next.

To date Athlone have won two, drawn three and have lost one of their six games played in the league. Their only defeat was at the RSC in Waterford when the home side won one nil – the only goal of the game coming from centre half David Breen in the 78th minute. The scoreline doesn’t really tell the story of the game as Athlone were down to ten men from the 16th minute when Roddy Collins jnr was shown a straight red card.

Last weekend Athlone had a fine victory over Finn Harps at Lissywollen when a 70th minute goal from Garbhan Coughlan gave Roddy Collins side a hard earned but merited victory over Peter Hutton’s highly rated Harps side.

Last season the meetings between the clubs were very closely contested with the Town winning two games and the other two were drawn. The first game between the clubs at City Calling stadium ended 2-1 in favour of Longford. The next meeting at Lissywollen ended 2-1 also with the Town taking the lead in the 10th minute with an excellent strike from Colm James but Mark Sherlock got Athlone back into the game in the 54th minute. However, a cracking goal from Noel Haverty on the hour mark gave the Town another three points. The next meeting between the clubs at City Calling stadium ended 0-0 while the final meeting between the team at Lissywollen ended 1-1. That draw gave Longford eight points out of a possible twelve against their near neighbours but there is no doubt that the current Athlone team will be a lot harder to beat especially under Roddy Collins.

Roddy has lifted the Athlone club and he will definitely generate a big interest in the club as they like ourselves strive to get promoted to the Premier Division. Since taking over the Athlone job he has signed some very good players but like his counterpart Tony Cousins in Longford he is depending on a lot of young players and that is good for the League in general.

One of his best signings seems to be Ryan Coombes who has joined the club on loan from St. Patrick’s Athletic while signed from Shelbourne are striker Philly Hughes and defender Barry Clancy. Garvan Broughall played last season and by all accounts he was their man of the match on Friday night last in their win over Finn Harps.

The Town’s injury list is beginning to get shorter thankfully as defender Noel Haverty made a welcome return to the team in Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night last.

On a night of many heroes for the Town one would have to say that the talented right back was the man of the match for the Town. On the positive side for the Town was the 1-0 win, especially when they had to play for almost an hour with only ten men after Keith Gillespie was very harshly sent-off in the 36th minute.

Willo McDonagh was outstanding in the second half while also prominent in the defence were Willie Tyrell and Brian McCarthy. There is no doubt that Brian will be looking forward to the visit of his former club and team mates on Saturday next.

When Keith Gillespie was sent-off Tony Cousins had to make a few changes – he had to sacrifice a wide player and he took off Daniel Purdy and replaced him with David O’Neill. Despite his youth the youngster made a big impact in the game.

The only goal came from leading scorer David O’Sullivan who burst past four defenders and unleashed a left foot thunderbolt that beat Doyle in the Wexford goal. The Town introduced Gavin Doyle for Gary Shaw and Cousins also brought on the fit again Michael Isichei for David O’Sullivan late on. The Town’s big injury list is shortening with the return of Haverty, Isichei and Keith Quinn who was on the bench again. Tony Cousins is keeping his fingers crossed on the other long time injury problems and he is looking to have a full squad to pick from very soon.

After the marvellous result last weekend against Wexford the Town will not want to slip up on Saturday against our near neighbours Athlone. They will be hard to beat but if we are to continue to chase promotion this is a game that we need to win.

Away to Drogheda in EA Sports Cup

The Town are away in the next round of the EA Sports Cup and what a game they have pulled. The Town play the holders of the Cup Drogheda United in United Park on Monday 20th May with a 7.45pm kick-off. Last season Drogheda had a great run in the league and in the EA Sports Cup. Mick Cooke, who previously managed Monaghan United, took Drogheda to new heights last season when they were runners-up to Sligo in the league which was a marvellous achievement.