Dean Zambra pictured in action for Longford Town against Waterford FC in the Airtricity League First Division game at City Calling Stadium on Saturday night last. Photo: Syl Healy
A very fortunate goal from debutant Paul Keegan clinched a vital win for Waterford in their push for promotion to the Premier Division and inflicted a first defeat for new Longford Town manager Neale Fenn at City Calling Stadium on Saturday night last.
Longford Town . . . 0 Waterford FC . . . 1
Town keeper Paul Skinner will have nightmares about Keegan’s goal in the 57th minute. Skinner came out to clear the danger but hit the ball straight at Keegan and it ended up in the net. It was tough on Skinner who played well throughout the game and pulled off a string of fine saves to deny Waterford.
Town boss Neale Fenn said it was somewhat of a freak goal: “We had a chat with him. It’s just about decisions. Did he need to play the initial ball to Kevin O’Connor, probably not! The ball could have bounced anywhere, it was one of those freak goals.
Longford created chances but failed to trouble Waterford keeper Matt Connor and scoring goals continues to be a serious problem. “It was the same last week against UCD. In the second half I thought we had some good chances but we failed to hit the target for whatever reason. It was disappointing in that we did not work the Waterford keeper,” stated Fenn.
Watched by the official attendance of 429, It was the First Division league leaders who had the opening effort on goal. Sean Heaney’s cross was met by Shane O’Connor and he brought an excellent save out of Skinner in the 8th minute. Three minutes later Jake Kelly had a chance for the Town but his effort was easily stopped by Connor.
John Martin did put the ball into the Town net but it was ruled out for offside. Kelly again had a chance for Longford but his free-kick went straight into the arms of Connor. Waterford then launched a promising attack in the 17th minute when Davy McDaid’s effort was deflected out for a corner.
Jake Kelly had another chance for the Town in the 22nd minute but he again shot straight at Connor. Minutes later Don Cowan’s cross fell to Kelly but his effort was blocked by opposing defender Kenny Browne.
Waterford had claims for a penalty ignored in the 40th minute when Martin appeared to be hauled down in the box and while the ball broke to McDaid his shot was superbly tipped over the bar by Skinner.
Longford also had a penalty claim turned down when the ball appeared to come off a Waterford defender in the box.
In the 52nd minute Jake Kelly blasted the ball over the bar before Karl Chambers hit his effort wide.
In the 57th minute Waterford broke the deadlock through Keegan after a poor clearance from Skinner and Neale Fenn was disappointed with the concession of the goal. “Before the goal we were playing well and we were putting them on the backfoot. When the goal happens they sit back. We had loads of the ball but just could not finish any of the chances we created. ”
Longford tried hard to get back into the game with Don Cowan breaking down the wing in the 62nd minute and crossing into the box to pick out Tristan Noack-Hofmann who attempted to lay the ball off but Waterford were able to clear the danger.
The Town enjoyed possession and pressed for the equaliser but it failed to materialise. Deep into stoppage time Waterford striker Mark O’Sullivan forced Skinner into making a terrific save but the visitors had already done enough to come away with all three vital points.
Fenn has seen a lot of positives in recent games. “We are not that far off, I think. Speaking to John Frost and Alan Reynolds they gave us a lot of respect and said it was the hardest game Waterford had played this season.
“I thought a draw would probably have been a fair result but we will move on to the next game away to Wexford.”
LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Skinner; Aidan Friel, Noel Haverty, Daniel O’Reilly, Tristan Noack-Hofmann; Don Cowan, Dean Zambra, Kevin O’Connor, Gavin Boyne; Karl Chambers, Jake Kelly.
Subs:- Cody Mulhall for Boyne (71 mins); Kealan Dillon for O’Connor (84 mins).
WATERFORD FC: Matt Connor; Conor Whittle, Kenny Browne, Derek Daly, Patrick McClean; Gary Comerford, Sean Heaney, Paul Keegan, John Martin; Davy McDaid, Shane O’Connor.
Subs:- Mark O’Sullivan for McDaid (71 mins); Dean O’Halloran for Daly (84 mins).
Referee: Alan Carey (Dublin).