A smash and grab win for Limerick inflicted a second home defeat of the season on a luckless Longford Town side in the League of Ireland First Division clash at Flancare Park on Saturday night last.
FAI First Division - Longford Town 1, Limerick 2
In recent games the Town haven’t got the rub of the green when it comes to results and that trend continued against Pat Scully’s side. This result was tough on the Town who over the course of the game played some nice football and totally deserved to come away with something.
They dominated for long spells but their inability to create clear-cut chances or to put away the ones that fell their way proved very costly, yet again. They also had to play the second half without striker Don Cowan who was forced to retire at half-time with a recurrence of his groin injury and that was a massive blow for the Town.
Their woes were then compounded seconds into the second half when Limerick took the lead for the second time through Sean Brosnan and it was an advantage they didn’t relinquish. Although the Town enjoyed some good possession after the break they were unable to engineer the equaliser.
It seems that once manager Tony Cousins gets one player back from injury another one replaces him on the treatment table. It really is tough on the Town and their small squad has been stretched to the limit recently.
The difference in Longford pushing for promotion and staying 5th has definitely been the spate of injuries they have had to contend with in the last few games. The losses have come all at once and they don’t have a strong enough squad to cope with the setbacks. Apart from losing Cowan, his strike partner Austin Skelly is currently out injured with groin trouble also.
The Town started well and took the game to Limerick as they began to assert pressure. In the opening 10 minutes they created a couple of opportunities and were unlucky not to open the scoring.
The lively Cowan opened up the Limerick defence on a few occasions and they found it hard to contain him. Keith Gillespie should have done better with his effort in the 7th minute which forced a save out of Limerick keeper Barry Ryan and minutes later Lee Roche headed over the bar.
The only effort on goal Limerick had in the opening quarter was a header from Pat Purcell from Sean O’Connor’s corner but that was off target. Then totally against the run of play the visitors broke the deadlock in the 17th minute when Paudie Quinn found Chris Breen and he made no mistake with a sweet strike. Two minutes later O’Connor had a chance to double Limerick’s advantage but he dragged his shot wide.
The Limerick goal rocked the Town but they worked hard to try and carve out an equaliser and deservedly got back on level terms in the 23rd minute. Mark Salmon played a beautiful ball into Cowan and he found the back of the net with a delightful lob.
Apart from that bright opening period the game got very scrappy with mis-placed passes by both sides who were guilty of giving away the ball too easily. Cowan continued to be Town’s main threat but he received very little help as Longford struggled to create scoring chances. Neither goalkeeper had to make any saves of note as the sides went in at the break all square.
Supporters had barely made their way back to their seats for the start of the second half when Limerick regained the lead. The Town defence should have dealt with the situation better and Brosnan duly punished them in finding the net to put his side back in front.
That was another blow for the Town, already badly hit by the loss of Cowan through injury at half-time. The striker caused a lot of problems in the first half and was sorely missed for the remainder of the match as he joined Skelly, Jack Morley and Cathal Brady on the casualty list.
Cowan’s injury was a massive turning point in the game. Although the Town had possession after the break they struggled to create anything that would trouble Ryan in the Limerick goals and had no real efforts on target. Substitute Daniel O’Reilly broke down the wing in the 58th minute and cut inside in forcing a save out of the Limerick netminder.
After that Longford failed to create anything of note and Limerick were quite content to protect their lead in holding out to collect all three points in their quest for promotion to the Premier Division.
LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Hunt, Chris Deans, Paddy Collins, Des Hope, Gary Cronin, Aidan Roche, Keith Gillespie, Thomas Hyland, Mark Salmon, Don Cowan, Lee Roche.
Subs:- Daniel O’Reilly for Cowan (injured, half-time); Jason Oladele for A Roche (76 mins); Craig Walsh for Hyland (82 mins).
LIMERICK: Barry Ryan, Corey Treacy, Brian McCarthy, Pat Purcell, John Frost, David O’Leary, Sean O’Connor, Jeffrey Judge, Paudie Quinn, Sean Brosnan, Chris Breen.
Subs:- Peter White for O’Leary (68 mins); Peter Hynes for Brosnan (80 mins); Andrew Bandarkar for O’Connor (82 mins).
Referee: Conor Fitzgerald (Dublin).