Longford Town manager Daire Doyle Photo: Syl Healy
In the aftermath of the bitter disappointment of losing to UCD in the second round of the FAI Cup, Longford Town are back in league action against St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park this Friday night, kick-off 7.45pm.
While St Pat’s were fortunate to get past Cork City in the Cup last weekend, winning in a penalty shoot-out, they will be firmly focused in their bid to collect all three points in the Premier Division clash at the Inchicore grounds.
This is a very tough game for the Town as under pressure manager Daire Doyle persists in making changes to the first eleven.
Having said that, suspension ruled out Aodh Dervin for the cup clash against UCD at the Bowl on Friday night last as four switches were made from the previous league game away to Waterford.
This tinkering with the team was a major surprise as a good run in the FAI Cup would have been a boost for the confidence of the players in view of the fierce struggle in the league with relegation looming.
Mick Kelly replaced Lee Steacy in goal and he gave a good account of himself as he had no chance with the two UCD goals.
Joe Manley was restored to the Town defence while there were also places for Aaron Robinson and Conor Davis in the starting team.
Last season Longford beat UCD in the First Division promotion play-offs against one of the best teams in the second tier of the Airtricity League. With that in mind, we should have selected our strongest possible side in the quest to reach the FAI CUp quarter-finals.
The records will show that Longford lost 2-1 with the goal coming from on loan striker Dean Williams and this was a game that the Town should have won.
St Pat’s are always a tough nut to crack at Richmond Park and their manager Stephen O’Donnell will be expecting a win against the team who are currently 16 points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Assisting the former Dundalk player is former Longford boss Alan Matthews and he is regarded as one of the best coaches in the League of Ireland as he proved when he was in charge of the Town.
St Pat’s sit in second place in the Premier Division behind the reigning league champions Shamrock Rovers.
The Town played St Pat’s twice this season and they lost both games. At the end of April the midlanders were beaten 3-0 at Richmond Park after a scoreless first half.
The second meeting between the clubs at Bishopsgate ended in a 3-1 victory for the Inchicore outfit with Aaron Dobbs scoring the Longford goal from a penalty.
The fact that Aodh Dervin will be back for Friday’s game is a boost and the local lad will be going all out to make his presence felt in the midfield battle.
It is hard to know what to do with only 11 league games left but the Town management will need to do something to stop the embarrassing run of results.
Why Rob Manley is being deployed on the wing is a mystery as he is our main striking force and he should be back in his position up front. Dean Williams is doing well and why not play both up front?
The news on the injury situation is better as Dean Byrne was back on the bench against UCD and he was brought on in the closing minutes of the match.
A much improved performance will be required in the hope of springing a surprise against St Pat’s who have a lot of quality players in their squad, most notably the playmaker Chris Forrester.
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