Cobh Ramblers make the journey to the midlands to take on Longford Town at the City Calling Stadium this Saturday night (K.O. 7-30PM). Both sides will be hoping to improve on opening day draws, Ramblers were denied at the death in somewhat controversial circumstances by Lee Duffy’s 90th minute header at home to Wexford F.C. whilst Alan Mathews was no doubt left to rue a missed first half penalty as his title favorites could only manage a scoreless draw against Shelbourne in Tolka Park.
After what could be seen as two points dropped last week in Tolka Park, Alan Mathews will be anxious to kick-start “De Town’s” promotion campaign with the maximum return against Cobh Ramblers.
During pre-season the bookies installed Longford and Waterford as joint favorites for promotion, with the latter having emphatically dispatched Cabinteely at the R.S.C. on Friday night after last week’s shock 1-0 reversal against Athlone Town, Mathews will not want to concede anymore ground to his main title rivals.
Longford have injury concerns ahead of Saturday night’s encounter. Long serving defender Noel Haverty and the much travelled, experienced attacker Don Cowan departed the fray early last Friday night and the club confirmed that they are both out of contention for this fixture due to injury.
There have been positive reports about how well new signing from UCD Mark Langtry slotted in to the back four as cover for Haverty in the Tolka Park encounter. David O’Sullivan will again lead the Longford attack. Despite missing a penalty last week, the former Wayside Celtic striker who finished last season with eight goals was lively throughout and will carry Longford’s main attacking threat.
In the absence of Cowan it will be interesting to see if Mathews elects to introduce Jake Kelly to the starting 11. The former Bray man remained on the bench last Friday night after an injury disrupted pre-season and a decision on his fitness will be taken closer to kick off. Cody Mulhall may also be in contention for a starting position in attack given that new signing from Galway Enda Curran struggled to make inroads against a physical Shelbourne rearguard last weekend.
Last week’s concession of a 90th minute equalizer against Wexford did not go down well with Ramblers’ boss Stephen Henderson. Lee Duffy’s header at the death resulted from a throw in to Wexford after the Ramblers keeper and former Longford custodian Paul Hunt had but the ball put of play to allow for treatment for his injured captain Chris McCarthy. Wexford didn’t return the ball to Ramblers much to the ire of Henderson resulting in the Cobh rearguard been caught unawares and Duffy the former Longford striker making his League debut for the Ferrycarrig outfit pouncing to secure what was a deserved equalizer on the overall balance of play.
Given that Wexford’s controversial equalizer last week had such strong links to Longford it’s only appropriate that Ramblers find themselves undertaking the long journey to the midlands to take on the locals this weekend.
Whilst Alan Mathews has had the available budget to recruit players such as Dylan McGlade, Mark Langtry and Dean Zambra in the close season in an attempt to secure and immediate return to the Premier Division , Stephen Henderson has stressed very much that in the absence of a playoff, Cobh’s priority this season is to survive the year financially.
Henderson has been active in the close season bringing in eight new signings and he was no doubt delighted with Dean Swords first league goal for the club last weekend as he curled in a free kick to open the scoring against Wexford. Ross Mann who was signed from Limerick on transfer deadline day also impressed on the wing as did defender Shane Lowth.
Cobh’s young side looked impressive in parts last weekend during a game that was played on an atrocious surface, Cobh lined out last week in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Swords up front and the former Ringmahon player should lead the line again against Longford if he shakes off a slight hamstring strain.
This game marks the return of Ramblers’ net minder Paul Hunt to his former club and he told the club website he expects a tough encounter.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game up there. Longford are a good side this year and it’s a tough place for teams to go. I fully believe however that if this team plays the way that we can, we are more than capable of beating any team in this league.”
Referee: John McLoughlin
Since Ramblers rejoined the league in 2013 encounters between these sides have resulted in goals. In the nine games these sides have played since then a staggering 47 goals have been scored with Longford victorious in six encounters compared to just one win for Cobh , true to this fixture’s form, it was a 4-3 win at St. Colman’s Park in July 2013.
Longford 4/6; Draw 23/10; Cobh 9/2
Longford 2-0 Cobh Ramblers
Injured: Don Cowan, Noel Haverty
Doubtful: Jake Kelly
Injured: Darren Murphy (ankle), Cian Kingston (hamstring)
Doubtful: Jason Abbott (flu), Michal Sadys (flu), Dean Swords (hamstring)