Longford Town FC manager Neale Fenn, who will be hoping that his team can bounce back from the defeat against Bray with a win over Cobh Ramblers at City Calling Stadium on Saturday evening next Picture: Syl Healy
Longford Town play the final game of the second phase of fixtures in the First Division on Saturday evening next when they confront Cobh Ramblers at City Calling Stadium, kick-off 7.30pm.
After Saturday's game the Town go into their final phase of fixtures, nine games that will confirm their status for next season.
After the summer break the League always gets to the business end of things and a lot will be decided in the coming weeks.
Twenty years ago the Town won promotion to the Premier Division for the first time and on that occasion they travelled to Cobh and under the then manager Stephen Kenny the club made the big move up to the top tier of League of Ireland football.
Wouldn't it be great if the same happened this season on September 21 when the Town travel to St Colman's Park for the final league fixture.
In the last game before the summer break the Town suffered heartbreak at the Carlisle grounds when the home side came from behind in the final minutes to win 3-2 in a dramatic finish.
There is no doubt that if the Town had converted their earlier chances in the game the result would be completely different and would have taken the three points.
Longford missed at least five easy chances in a game that saw both teams get many chances but unfortunately as has happened on a few occasions this season the Town didn't convert their chances into goals.
With the July window for signing players opening soon there is no doubt that a top priority for Neale Fenn is a player to put the ball in the net on a regular basis.
Not for the first time this season the Town dropped points due to the inability to convert possession into goals.
Shelbourne are grinding out results at the moment winning games by the odd goal and they also have the experienced Ciaran Kilduff who has played at the highest level here and abroad.
Kilduff has been on the scoresheet regularly this season and is a very valuable signing for Shelbourne manager Ian Morris who is now in charge after playing for near neighbours Bohemians last season.
Shelbourne’s 1-0 victory over the Town a few weeks ago has given them a four point cushion at this stage and it will take a valiant effort from Neale Fenn's men to claw back their four points, making the mid-August game between the clubs at City Calling Stadium a massive match.
In their last game played before the break Cobh played erratic Galway at St Colman's Park and the home side won 2-1 with goals from exciting prospects Denzil Fernandez and Jaze Kabia while Galway got a late consolation.
After the game Cobh were rocked by the news that Stephen Henderson was standing down as manager with immediate effect.
Henderson was doing an outstanding job for the Munster club with very limited resources and no doubt he will not be long out of football for long due to his excellent experience as a manager and previously as a player.
The news out of Cobh is that Stuart Ashton, who was on Henderson's backroom staff, is taking over as interim manager for the rest of the season.
While Kabia and Fernandez are two exciting prospects, Cobh also have the very experienced Ian Turner in their squad and he has years of Premier Division experience. Former Town keeper Paul Hunt is back as number one keeper as he has ousted Adam Mylod from the position in recent games.
James McSweeney and Stephen Christopher are two other quality players in the team and there is no doubt that Cobh will pose considerable problems for Neale Fenn's team on Saturday next.
When the teams met in St Colman's Park back in mid April the game ended scoreless. That game marked the return from injury of Carlton Ubaezuonu who replaced Adam Evans while Paul O'Conor, who is currently out injured, replaced Sean Brennan.
The teams played each other three times last season in the League and also clashed in the EA Sports Cup at St Colman's Park. It was honours even between the clubs in the league last season with a win each and a draw.
The opening meeting between the clubs was the first game of the season at City Calling Stadium and the game ended 2-2.
Chris Mulhall and captain Dean Zambra were the Town goalscorers while the Cobh goals came from Andrew Wall and Cian Leonard.
The second meeting was in Cobh and the game played in early May ended in a victory for the Town. The only goal of the game came from Sam Verdon in the 26th minute.
The final game between the clubs was played at City Calling Stadium in early July. The Town went into this game on a real high after beating the league leaders UCD at Belfield on an unbelievable 5-1 scoreline.
The home game against Cobh was a real wake up call for the Town management and the team as the young Cobh side came to Longford and plundered three points. The visitors won 2-1 with goals from Denzil Fernandez and Stephen Christopher while the Town goal came from Sam Verdon.
That victory for Cobh last year will be a warning to the Town this season and nothing short of a victory on Saturday is essential.
Cobh may be managerless at the moment but the Town will have to be wary of them, especially with a new caretaker boss in charge.
One can't see too many changes in the Town starting team as this is the time for continuity in the line-out. Paul O'Conor is out for the Town with a facial injury but apart from that Neale Fenn would be hopeful of having a fully fit squad.
The Town need to bounce back after the Bray defeat as they hope to close the gap between them and leaders Shels who are playing Limerick at home this weekend.
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