Mick McDonnell rises highest to get a head on a corner kick for Longford Town Picture: Syl Healy
Longford Town’s faint hopes of capturing the SSE Airtricity League First Division title suffered a huge setback on Saturday night when goals in each half saw visitors Shelbourne claim a vital win at City Calling Stadium on Saturday evening.
SSE Airtricity League First Division - Round 24: Longford Town 0 Shelbourne 2
Shelbourne are now eight points ahead of Town at the top of the table with just three league games to go. Longford are also three points adrift of second place Drogheda Utd.
Shelbourne were full value for their win against a Town side who were devoid of ideas throughout.
Town failed to string decent passages of play together and on numerous occasions just aimlessly hoofed the ball up the field in hope.
It was a poor opening half for what was a top of the table clash. It lacked intensity, drama and decent football.
Town had a great chance to break the deadlock in the 14th minute; a corner from Anto Breslin met the head of Sean Boyd but his effort was deflected out for a corner by Shels keeper Colin McCabe.
Five minutes later the visitors opened the scoring; the Town players stood still waiting for the flag to be raised for offside but it wasn’t as Shane Farrell’s fantastic pass was finished to the net by Denzil Fernandes.
The goal though failed to spark the game into life and neither side created anything of note as Shelbourne were happy to sit back on their lead and soak up the pressure but the Town lacked any sort of creativity to create goal scoring opportunities.
Town had scored nine goals in their previous two league games but never looked like they would put the ball in the back of the net on Saturday night.
In the 45th minute Colin McCabe had to stretch to his left to make a save from Dean Byrne while in stoppage time Shels piled on the pressure and won a number of corners but nothing came of them.
In the 51st minute the visitors had a great chance to grab a second goal after Ciaran Kilduff played a neat ball to Karl Moore but he somehow blasted the ball wide when it was easier to score.
Shelbourne doubled their advantage in the 58th minute through substitute Greg Moorehouse who was only one the pitch less than one minute. It was goalscorer Fernandes who turned provider and his ball was turned into the net by Moorehouse.
Minutes later Shane Elworthy should have done better with his effort which was easily saved by the Shels netminder. In the 71st minute Sean Boyd couldn’t get a proper touch to Conor Kenna’s flick-on.
Despite enjoying possession Town didn’t look like they would generate anything that would trouble Shels and bring them back into the game. When Shelbourne had the ball they looked more composed and comfortable.
As the clock ticked down the Town fans in the 1,111 attendance urged the players to manufacture something that would yield a goal.
In the third minute of the five allocated at the end of the match Shels keeper McCabe made a fantastic save to deny Anto Breslin and keep his goal intact as Town fell to a disappointing defeat.
LONGFORD TOWN: Lee Steacy; Shane Elworthy, Mick McDonnell, Conor Kenna, Anto Breslin; Aodh Dervin, Sam Verdon; Dylan Grimes, Dean Byrne, Sean Boyd.
Subs: Aaron Dobbs for S Verdon (64 mins), Jack Doherty for D Grimes (77 mins)
SHELBOURNE: Colin McCabe; Derek Prendergast, Oscar Brennan, Luke Byrne, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Oscar Brennan; Denzil Fernandes, Ryan Brennan, Ciaran Kilduff, Karl Moore; Shane Farrell.
Subs: Greg Moorehouse for C Kilduff (57 mins), Sean Quinn for R Brennan inj (62 mins), Darragh Noone for D Fernandes (75 mins)
REFEREE: Adriano Reale (Kildare)