A last minute equaliser by Cork City denied Longford Town a famous win at Turners Cross on Friday night last and the chance to go top of the First Division table for 24 hours.
FIRST DIVISION - Cork City 1, Longford Town 1
The Town defence had stood firm throughout and soaked up all the pressure. It looked like the home side were not going to find a way past the excellent Longford keeper Paul Hunt but Cork substitute Jamie Murphy had other ideas.
On the field barely three minutes Murphy got on to the end of Gavin Kavanagh’s cross to claim a dramatic share of the spoils for his side. It was a deserved equaliser for City who kept intact their unbeaten record as they are the only side in both divisions who have yet to suffer a defeat this season.
Town have no game next weekend as it is their turn for the bye in the 11-team league which has its good and bad points. Players who are struggling with niggling injuries can recover for the trip to Shelbourne on Friday week, May 20th but hopefully it won’t halt Longford momentum – now unbeaten in their last four games; winning three and drawing one.
After their first series of matches the Town lie in third spot in the table. It’s a position few would have predicted but to the team and management it’s no surprise. It shows how far they have come this season when a draw against Cork City away from home felt like a defeat. It was the manner in which they conceded the goal but they can hold their heads up after another excellent performance in an enjoyable game of football.
The Town were dealt a blow before the game when striker Don Cowan was forced to pull out with a groin injury and was replaced on the team by Lee Roche.
But the visitors made the perfect start to the game and went ahead in the 6th minute. Last season while with Athlone Austin Skelly scored a fantastic overhead kick at Turners Cross. This time round with Longford he found the target again but with a different technique; a stunning shot from the edge of the box. Credit to Skelly he worked tirelessly throughout and was a real menace for the City defence.
After the goal City tried hard to get back into the game. Davin O’Neill hit a low drive that failed to threaten opposing keeper Hunt. In the 13th minute Town defender Chris Deans slack back pass very nearly yielded the home side a goal; Vinny Sullivan pounced on the ball and got around Hunt but his touch let him down and the opportunity was wasted.
Although the Town enjoyed some of the play they didn’t really create anything of note after Skelly’s strike. The nearest they came to scoring a second goal came in the 36th minute when Jacques Morley’s shot from about 25 yards out just swerved wide of the City goals.
Cork began to really pile on the pressure as half-time approached. In the 37th minute they had a great chance to level matters but instead of taking a shot at goal himself O’Neill decided to lay the ball off to Graham Cummins but he shot wide. Three minutes later Hunt brought off a fantastic save to deny Shane Duggan.
Town had Hunt to thank again minutes later. First he saved O’Neill’s shot with his feet and the same player followed up with a rasping shot but the young Longford keeper fisted the ball over the bar.
Cork dominated the second half as they went in search of an equaliser. They had a glorious chance to get back on level terms in the 60th minute but Cummins diving header just went narrowly wide after he connected with a perfect cross from Gearoid Morrissey.
Six minutes later the home side had claims for a penalty turned down by referee Phil Caschera after Morrissey went down under a challenge by Morley and the vociferous home supporters among the 2,000 plus attendance were not happy with the decision. But the linesman on that side had the perfect view and it was him who signalled to the referee that it wasn’t a spot-kick.
Later on there was a lucky escape for Cork when defender Ian Turner almost took the shirt off Aiden Roche’s back in a frantic attempt to stop the Town player going through. Turner was fortunate and while he should have been sent-off, the referee remarkably gave a free-out instead.
As the clock ticked down Cork continued to press and their perseverance eventually paid off when one minute from time they snatched the equaliser. It was the first time since October 2006 that the Town came away with a positive result from Turners Cross despite the disappointment of letting victory slip from their grasp on this occasion.
CORK CITY: James McCarthy, Ian Turner, Danny Murphy, Greg O’Halloran, Gearoid Morrissey, Davin O’Neill, Shane Duggan, Graham Cummins, Vinny Sullivan, Kalen Spillane, Gavin Kavanagh.
Subs:- Vincent Escude-Candau for O’Halloran (58 mins); Timmy Kiely for Sullivan (71 mins); Jamie Murphy for Turner (86 mins).
LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Hunt, Niall O’Reilly, Des Hope, Chris Deans, Gary Cronin, Keith Gillespie, Mark Salmon, Thomas Hyland, Jacques Morley, Lee Roche, Austin Skelly.
Subs:- Jason Oladele for L Roche (54 mins); Cathal Brady for Gillespie (61 mins); Aiden Roche for Morley (71 mins).
Referee: Phil Caschera (Dublin).