The first Midlands El Classico of the season went Longford Town’s way as they defeated neighbouring rivals Athlone Town in the first round of the EA Sports Cup in Athlone on Monday night last.
With an important league game against Waterford United coming up on Saturday night, Longford manager Tony Cousins made five changes from the side that started against Salthill Devon in the first league game of the season the previous Friday night.
Gary Shaw and Keith Quinn both missed out through injury while hat-trick hero David O’Sullivan was on the bench alongside Josh O’Hanlon who was also on target on Friday night. O’Hanlon came on to make an impact after he was introduced in the second half of the League Cup tie and scored the second Longford goal. Athlone made 10 changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Mervue on Saturday night.
Longford started the game brightly and Daniel Purdy was first to try his luck but his shot across the goal just went wide. Athlone’s first effort on goal came in the 14th minute with Toyeeb Mustapha blasting his shot wide and five minutes later Longford’s Gavin Doyle was unlucky with his effort.
In the 23rd minute Longford broke the deadlock. Michael Isichei did all the hard work and he played the ball to Purdy whose shot was parried by Athlone keeper Craig Sexton but the ball was deflected into the net off Athlone defender Garvan Broughall.
Athlone tried to get back into the game and Sodiq Oguntola forced a save out of Longford keeper Chris Bennion in the 32nd minute. Seven minutes from the break Town defender Willo McDonagh headed over from a corner.
It was the home side that started the second half brightly. Just one minute in Mustapha created another chance but yet again he failed to find the target while in the 60th minute Brian Gill’s shot was deflected out for a corner after getting onto the end of a Ryan Coombes free-kick from the left.
But Athlone suffered a killer blow when Longford increased their advantage in the 73rd minute; substitute O’Hanlon netting his second goal in two games. Young O’Hanlon latched onto Bennion’s kick-out to shoot low past Athlone keeper Sexton from the edge of the penalty area to clinch the win.
The focus for Tony Cousins and his players now switches to Saturday’s vital league game against fellow promotion hopefuls Waterford United at City Calling Stadium and Longford Town will be in a confident frame of mind after making a promising winning start to the new season.
ATHLONE TOWN: Craig Sexton, Niall Scullion, Robbie Clarke, Conor McMahon, Stephen Relihan, Toyeeb Mustapha, Brian Gill, Ryan Coombes, Garvan Broughall, Ian Sweeney, Sodiq Oguntola.
Subs used:- Roddy Collins (Junior) for McMahon (56 mins); Lee Dixon for Mustapha (63 mins); David Brooks for Gill (81 mins).
LONGFORD TOWN: Chris Bennion; Corie Treacy, Brian McCarthy, Willo McDonagh, Willie Tyrell; Colm James, Gavin Doyle, David O’Neill, Michael Lee; Michael Isichei, Daniel Purdy.
Subs used:- Josh O’Hanlon for Doyle (62 mins); Mark Salmon for Lee (71 mins); Noel Haverty for James (87 mins).
Referee: Alan Sherlock (Meath).