Longford Town made hard work of their trip to face Wexford Youths at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night but goals from Daniel Purdy and Karl Bermingham earned the midlanders a good three points that kept them on top of the Airtricity League First Division.
On a night where there were plenty of talking points, Longford put Youths under pressure from the whistle and forced the concession of three early corners, with Doyle being called into early action in the Youths goal. Youths were gradually able to get a foothold in the game but nearly as quickly lost any parity with the sending off of captain and talisman, Danny Furlong.
Tom Elmes was making a break down the left wing and Furlong was racing into the middle to meet the cross but got caught between the Town centre-halves. No free-kick was given and aghast at this decision, Furlong reacted and referee Jim McKell had no hesitation in giving Furlong a straight red card after 14 minutes.
Youths regrouped but the pattern of the opening spell continued with pressure from Longford and a speculative 40 yard effort from Colm James crashed off the bar and over. Nonetheless, Longford’s next corner proved to decisive with Purdy rising highest to direct his header into the back of the Youths net.
Youths responded in the best possible fashion. Brian Nolan and Elmes combined well down the Longford right, with Nolan whipping a ball into the box and Keith Gillespie was adjudged to have handled the ball. McKell was, once again, decisive and pointed straight to the spot.
Dempsey took over the captain’s armband and penalty taking duties after Furlong’s dismissal and coolly slotted into corner, sending Craig Hyland the other direction. This gave Youths the impetus to push on and they really should have went into the break a goal ahead after a great through ball from the impressive Dempsey left Elmes one on one with the keeper but he blasted his effort over the bar.
Longford started the second period as they did the first, with Doyle making a couple of great saves to keep out the league leaders and Shaw missing a glorious effort that seemed easier to score. The Longford goal was coming and Bermingham duly delivered after a controlled header back from the industrious Kirby, Bermingham coolly slotted away.
Youths, to their credit, kept their composure, kept fighting and caused Longford a few problems. However, the experienced Keith Gillespie made life more difficult for the midlanders after receiving a straight red card for a leading arm on Elmes.
The final 10 minutes saw Youths push more for the equaliser but it didn’t arrive. Youths can take heart from this performance, though Longford remain on top.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Brian Nolan, Jamie Carr, CJ Browne, James Dermody (Mark Phelan '88); Paul Malone (Thomas Croke '86), Shane Dempsey, Shane Nolan (Dean Broaders '74), Aidan Keenan; Tom Elmes, Danny Furlong.
Unused Subs: Cormac O'Brien, Shaun Corcoran, James Scallan, John Yeats.
Yellow Cards: S Nolan (11), Malone (35), B Nolan (57), Keenan (71), Browne (84), Elmes (88).
Red Cards: Furlong (14).
Longford Town: Craig Hyland; Colm James, Chris Deans, Noel Haverty, Thomas Crawley; Mark Salmon, Daniel Purdy (Michael Lee '46), Alan Kirby, Keith Gillespie; Gary Shaw, Karl Bermingham.
Unused Subs: Paul Hunt, James O'Brien, Jacques Morley, Des Hope, Graham Dowling, Gary Cronin.
Yellow Cards: Shaw (70).
Red Cards: Gillespie (82).
Referee: James McKell.