Don Cowan, back in action for Longford Town after recovering from injury. Photo: James Donnelly
League leaders Waterford FC are the visitors to City Calling Stadium this Saturday evening (kick-off 7.30pm) for Round 6 of the Airtricity League First Division and they will provide a very stern test for Longford Town who have made a poor start to the new season.
SSE Airtricity League First Division - Round 6
With Pat Fenlon as general manager and former town player Alan Reynolds as manager the blues have assembled a strong backroom team and an equally strong squad of players. This time last year Waterford were in disarray but they formed a new club, Waterford FC, and got a licence to play in the league this season.
It's a bit confusing to say the least as the rules when you are applying for a licence you must not owe any monies to players, suppliers etc. There must be a big loophole in the licence applications as Wexford Youths did the same and they now are under the name Wexford FC. Fair dues to both clubs if they can get through on a technicality as other clubs have to pay their dues if they are to get the required licence.
The new Waterford club have a big backer who also owns Swindon Town FC and has family in Waterford thus his interest in his hometown club. When you look at the Waterford squad you would think it's a Premier Division squad with many experienced players vying to get a start in the team.
The two main men in defence are players who could get into any team in the League. Former St Pat’s Athletic player Kenny Browne joined the club from FAI Cup champions Cork City in a very surprising move especially with Cork playing in Europe.
If Kenny's arrival was a surprise so too was the signing of Patrick McClean, younger brother of Ireland international James who decided to moved south from Derry City. There is no doubt that this is an ideal defensive partnership and it will take a good attack to get past them.
Alan Reynolds strengthened his midfield with the loan signing of Tom Smith from Swindon Town who by all accounts is a super player. Former Tottenham winger Kenny McEvoy has come home from England to join the Reynolds revolution at the RSC. Kenny who played for the Republic at under 19 and under 21 level is a very exciting player who was loaned out by Spurs to clubs in the First and Second Division. This lad is capable of changing a game with his excellent running down the wing and he will be a big threat to our defence.
Waterford also have Estonian international Sander Puri on their books and the exciting winger who has over 70 caps for his country is a player of excellent quality. Sander played with Sligo Rovers a few seasons ago and he no doubt is a real match winner.
Up front the Blues have big Mark O'Sullivan, another ex Cork City player, who is a great target man and a proven goal scorer. Alongside Mark Waterford have another experienced player David McDaid who like team mate McClean has come down from Derry. David is a proven goalscorer as he showed in the League of Ireland and the Irish League.
There is no doubt that this Waterford side are a formidable combination who are geared to make the big move up to the holy grail of the Premier Division. As the table stands at the moment Waterford are top on ten points, the same as UCD but Waterford have one goal better difference.
Cabinteely are next on nine points while Cobh are on eight. Shelbourne and Athlone are next on six points while the Town have four and bottom of the table Wexford are on 2 points.
Looking at the squad that Alan Reynolds has assembled we go into this game as underdogs especially when we haven't won at home in the league since October 2015. Hopefully the Town's injury situation will improve in time for this crucial clash.
Before the season commenced the Town and Waterford were the favourites to be fighting it out to see who goes up at the end of the season. There are 23 games left in this season’s league and that is ample time to move up the table and challenge Waterford and the rest for the sole promotion spot.
Let’s hope that a big crowd will come out to City Calling Stadium for what promises to be a very entertaining game and hopefully a home win for our devoted supporters.