Don Cowan’s excellent strike four minutes before the break was enough to give Longford Town a deserved win over Waterford United at Flancare Park on Saturday night last.
AIRTRICITY LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION - Longford Town 1, Waterford 0
Cowan picked up the ball about 20 yards out and the Waterford defence just stood off which gave him the opportunity to take aim and Blues keeper Kevin Burns had no chance of saving the cracking shot. Don was a menace throughout and along with strike partner Austin Skelly really gave the Waterford defence a torrid time.
The vital three points moved the Town up to fourth in the First Division table and they will be hoping to win again away to Finn Harps on Friday night.
Waterford United were one of the sides tipped to push for promotion but on Saturday night they were extremely poor and all credit to the Town who actually made them look ordinary.
Although they had the dangerous Willie John Kiely up front the visitors lacked any real firepower and it wasn’t until the 76th minute that they forced Town netminder Paul Hunt into making his first real save of the game. And it was a superb stop by the young keeper from a Gary Keane effort that kept his goal intact and allowed the Town to emerge victorious.
It was the home side who made the better start to the game and were unlucky not to have taken the lead in the 3rd minute. Jacques Morley played a perfect ball into Skelly but his powerful drive came crashing off the crossbar with Waterford keeper Burns well beaten.
One minute later the Town had claims for a penalty turned down by referee Darren Coombes after Skelly was pushed in the box by Blues defender Kevin Murray. The visitors first effort on goal came in the 10th minute; Conor Synott with a snapshot that got a deflection out for the first corner of the game.
One minute later Don Cowan saw his ambitious lob bounce wide of the far post before Willie John Kiely’s header just flashed wide. As the half hour mark approached there were chances for both sides to break the deadlock.
Waterford had a penalty plea turned down in the 29th minute when Murray’s jersey appeared to have been tugged in the box but it would have been harsh on the Town if the spot kick had been awarded
A lovely move from Longford in the 30th minute could have seen them open the scoring; Cowan done all the work to get himself into a good position down near the endline, he played a neat ball into the box but it hit the leg of midfielder Mark Salmon and went over the bar.
The Town continued to pile on the pressure and four minutes from the break they were rewarded for their perseverance when Cowan made no mistake with a cracking strike.
Longford made a fantastic start to the second half and they had two chances in quick succession to double their advantage. First Cowan hit an excellent shot but Burns brought off a fantastic save to deny the striker from grabbing his second goal and just over one minute later Skelly had another chance but his diving header came off the post.
Waterford began to come more into the game as they went in search of an equaliser. But the Town defence were resilient and stood firm. In the final quarter of the game the Blues had two great opportunities to get back on level terms. First Paul Murphy’s shot came off the crossbar and Gary Keane decided to try his luck with the follow-up but Hunt brought off an excellent save.
With the Blues pushing for the equaliser it allowed the Town the chance to catch them on the break and 10 minutes from time they came close to getting a second goal when Cowan found himself in a great position but his curling shot just went inches wide.
LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Hunt, Niall O’Reilly, Chris Deans, Des Hope, Gary Cronin, Keith Gillespie, Mark Salmon, Thomas Hyland, Jacques Morley, Don Cowan, Austin Skelly.
Subs:- Cathal Brady for Gillespie (64 mins); Craig Walsh for Morley (77 mins); Lee Roche for Skelly (87 mins).
WATERFORD UNITED: Kevin Burns, Seamus Long, Michael Coady, Kevin Murray, Kenny Browne, Shane Barrett, Conor Synott, Gary Keane, Willie John Kiely, Kevin Quinn, Paul Murphy. Subs:- Shane Dempsey for Barrett (half-time); Michael Rafter for Kiely (71 mins).
Referee: Darren Coombes (Dublin).