Longford Town returned to winning ways as two goals in the opening quarter of an hour ultimately secured a vital three points for Tony Cousins side as they saw off an out of form Mervue Utd side at Flancare Park on Saturday night to return to second in the table.
Mervue started brightly and should have been in front on seven minutes when fullback Michael McSweeney played Pat Hoban in on goals and with just Craig Hyland to beat the striker, who had already bagged four goals against Longford this season, pulled his shot wide of the post.
The visitors were to rue that chance as a minute later a mix up in their defence allowed Gary Shaw fired home the opening score of the game past a helpless Connor Gleeson as poor defending once again proved costly.
The home team doubled their lead on the quarter hour mark when Daniel Purdy tried his luck with a speculative lobbed effort which beat Gleeson from all of 30 yards to make it 2-0. Longford then twice hit the post in quick succession as it looked like they were on course to repeat their start to the game when the sides last met at the ground when they raced into a 4-0 lead inside 25 minutes.
That didn’t happen though as Tony Griffiths wasted a good chance to make it three nil as he got a sight on goal but struck his effort straight at Gleeson on 27 minutes, while Purdy tried his luck again from distance but this time his effort was too high as it cleared Gleeson’s crossbar.
At the other end Pat Hoban had a rare chance for the visitors but he once again missed the target sending his shot wide of the mark, while Tom King also had an effort well off target as Mervue tried to reduce the deficit before the break without success.
Johnny Glynn’s side did start the second half with a bit more purpose as they tried to get back into the game but it was the home side who should have increased their lead as Griffiths blasted a shot over the crossbar and then Shaw missed a great chance as he completely missed the ball with the goal at his mercy 10 minutes after the re-start.
Mervue put their best move of the game together just past the hour mark when Etanda Nkololo broke down the left wing and crossed to King who knocked the ball back to Jason Molloy who hesitated which allowed Michael Lee to block his first effort and he then fired the loose ball straight at Hyland.
After that the home side defended comfortably as they seemed intent on keeping what they had to ensure a valuable three points, and with Limerick only drawing in Finn Park they closed the gap to four points at the top of the table and also moved back into the play-off position.
Mervue have now lost three on the bounce and will take a welcome break from league action next weekend as their attentions will turn to the FAI Cup and an away game with fellow First Division side Waterford Utd at the RSC next Friday night in the last sixteen.
Longford Town: Craig Hyland; Des Hope, Willo McDonagh (Chris Deans 78), Michael Lee (Thomas Crawley 69); Mark Salmon, Keith Gillespie, Alan Kirby, Robert Bayly (Karl Bermingham 72), Gary Shaw; Daniel Purdy, Tony Griffiths
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Niall O’Reilly, Colm James, Craig Walsh.
Bookings: McDonagh (45), Purdy (48), Bayly (68).
Mervue Utd : Connor Gleesson; Michael McSweeney, Mike Elwood (Brian Connolly 86), Stephen Walsh, Marc Ludden; Tom King, Noel Varley (Shane Keogh 76), Gary Kelly, Etanda Nkololo (Jean Biansumba 86); Jason Molloy, Pat Hoban.
Subs not used: Ronan Forde, (GK), Andy Higgins, Alan Murphy, Damien O’Rourke.
Bookings: Ludden (72), S Keogh (90+3).
Referee : James McKell.