Longford Town seeking vital victory away to Athlone in the midlands derby

SSE Airtricity League First Division - Round 14

Donald Keogh

Reporter:

Donald Keogh

Email:

newsroom@longfordleader.ie

Airtricity League First Division

Tom McGuinness, a member of the Longford Town Supporters Club, presenting the player of the month award for April to Aodh Dervin before the game against Shels last Saturday night. Photo: Syl Healy

Longford Town face the short journey to Athlone this Friday night for the second midlands derby this season, kick-off 7.45pm.

A lot has been written about the situation in Athlone regarding the club with both the general manager Roddy Collins and team manager Aaron Callaghan who started the season in control of the team affairs but have recently left the club for various reasons.

Last Friday Athlone travelled to the Belfield Bowl to play  UCD and despite being beaten they gave a great account of themselves.

The final result was 3-0 to the students but the result doesn't really tell the story of the game. The League's most potent goalscorer Georgie Kelly opened the scoring for the table toppers in the 38th minute and two more goals followed in the second half.  

Athlone had a man of the match performance from 17 year old keeper Darcy Lawless who made some stunning saves. Lawless is one of many changes in personnel that the new Athlone management team have unearthed in recent weeks.

The recent performances by the new look Athlone team must be encouraging for the club but they need to start picking up points as one point from the draw with Finn Harps is a very poor return.

The team that started against UCD on Friday last was much changed from that which played the Town at the end of March. Five players Ian Fletcher, Cormac Raferty, Ollie Hamzat and Aaron Brilly started at City Calling Stadium a couple of months ago.

The team that started against UCD included two former Town players. Ian Fletcher played some games with the Town a few seasons ago and another midfielder Aaron Brilly made his Town debut for the senior team when he was only 17.

When the teams clashed at City Calling Stadium earlier in the season the Town, who went behind after only a minute, eventually won  5-1.

Last season the teams met on four occasions in the League and also in the EA Sports Cup. The Town won three of the League meetings and drew the fourth game. The final League game between the clubs was at City Calling Stadium in mid August and it ended 7-1 in favour of the Town.

Davy O'Sullivan helped himself to his second hat-trick of the season against Athlone.

The teams met in the EA Sports and that game turned out to be a real cracker. The Town held out for a hard earned 4-3 victory and the game will be remembered for the 10 minute hat-trick by O'Sullivan.

The Town had to battle hard for the 1-1 draw against Shelbourne on Saturday night last at City Calling stadium.

The Town welcomed back Peter Hopkins and Aodh Dervin after bad injuries and they replaced Dean Zambra and Darren Meenan who were on the bench for the game. Both players came on as second half substitutes for Jamie Hollywood and Peter Hopkins.

Dean Byrne replaced Chris Mulhall who must be very tired after all the chasing across the pitch as the Town went in search of a winner. Former striker Davy O'Sullivan came back to haunt the Town in the second half when he headed Shels into the lead after 49 minutes. The Town equalised just past the hour mark when Dylan McGlade unleashing a stunning shot into the back of the net.

Shels keeper Lee Stacey made some outstanding saves and if it were not for him there is no doubt that the three points would have gone to Longford.

Alan Kehoe, Shane O'Connor, Adam O'Connor and Cian Byrne are still out for the match in Athlone and the Town have to pick up the three league points to remain in contention for a play-off spot.