Longford Town moved up to joint second in the First Division table and within one point of leaders Shelbourne with a deserved win over bottom side Salthill Devon at Flancare Park on Saturday night last.
FIRST DIVISION - Longford Town 2, Salthill Devon 0
Longford are level on points with Cork City but the Leesiders have a better goal difference. The two teams meet this Friday night at Turners Cross and Town manager Tony Cousins will want to get one over on his cousin, the Cork manager Tommy Dunne. Dunne has a good record over Cousins with a draw at Flancare Park and two wins down at the Cross last season.
Against Salthill Devon on Saturday night last watched by an attendance in the region of 350, the Town dominated the game from start to finish but found the visitors extremely resilient and hard to break down.
But the home side didn’t panic and were patient as they piled on the pressure and were duly rewarded in the 68th minute when Don Cowan opened the scoring with a terrific strike.
Within minutes of Cowan finding the back of the net a second goal came the Town’s way. Influential substitute Craig Walsh floated in a free-kick which met the head of defender Des Hope and while his effort hit the post, the linesman on that side had the perfect view and signalled that the ball had crossed the line.
It could have gone so wrong for the Town just two minutes before Cowan’s goal. Salthill should have scored when Ciprian Straut’s header at the far past went wide but it would have been rough justice indeed.
That was the warning that woke Longford up and the deadlock was eventually broken by a classy finish from Cowan.
Cowan had a chance to score as early as the first minute when his fine effort brought an excellent save out of Salthill keeper Ronan Forde and the home side continued to dominate the exchanges.
In the 24th minute midfielder Mark Salmon went close to getting the opening goal. He did well to make a burst through midfield, got into the box and after rounding Forde, his shot from a tight angle was blocked by Salthill defender Georoid O’Leidhinn.
Keith Gillespie also had a good chance but his shot was blocked down and Salthill had set out their stall to stand firm and frustrate the Town, which they managed to do throughout a poor first half.
The struggle continued for Longford on the changeover, although Austin Skelly had a great chance to find the target in the 59th minute. Winger Jacques Morley played in the perfect ball but the striker blazed his effort over the bar.
There was another let-off for Salthill in the 65th minute. In what was a beautiful move by the Town, Gillespie (displaying some very neat touches on the right side of midfield) laid the ball off to Salmon who found Morley cutting in from the left wing but his well struck shot went just inches wide with opposing keeper Forde well beaten.
After being totally out of the game the visitors could have taken a shock lead one minute later but Straut’s knocked his header wide when it was easier to score.
The Town finally found the back of the net in the 68th minute. Cronin fired in a left wing cross which broke kindly for Cowan who finished the ball to the net with a fantastic strike.
Three minutes later a very relieved Longford side scored a second goal to put the issue beyond all doubt. Walsh’s free-kick found central defender Hope in the box and his powerful header went in with a deflection off the post.
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:- Craig Walsh for Hyland (56 mins); Cathal Brady for Gillespie (70 mins); Lee Roche for Skelly (83 mins).
SALTHILL DEVON: Ronan Forde, Eugene Greaney, Gearoid O’Leidhinn, James Whelan, Cian Fadden, Cian McBrien, Daniel Rupa, Ronan Conlon, Victor Collins, Ciprian Straut, Eltanda Nkolo.
Subs:- Timmy Molloy for Nkolo (54 mins); Gerry Dolan for Rupa (85 mins); Luke McConnell for Conlon (85 mins).
Referee: Jim McKell (Tipperary).