Longford Town blew off the cobwebs from their dispiriting loss to Athlone Town last week with a 4-0 victory over a toothless and lightweight Salthill Devon side at City Calling Stadium on Saturday night.
The amazingly prolific David O’Sullivan and youthful substitute Josh O’Hanlon shared a brace of goals on the night.
A remarkably open first half characterised by listless defending saw the home side create the bulk of the chances.
On 17 minutes, Town’s marauding winger David O’Neill had a glorious chance to open the scoring. Gary Shaw burst purposefully down the wing and, with the Salthill defence hopelessly stretched, he centred for O’Neill. However the winger’s attempts to side-foot the ball home were scuppered by the reactions of Keane in the Salthill goal who saved well with his legs.
However, the ball only arrived at the feet of O’Sullivan at the edge of the box. He steadied and steered the ball past Keane, but not past the covering Shane O’Rourke who hooked the ball off the line.
The Town lived dangerously on occasion with some overly leisurely passing among their back four. On 20 minutes, Oscar Sibanda almost made them pay with a rasping shot on which Bennion had to get down quick to parry. From the rebound, Geraghty shot agonisingly wide from close range.
Quick as a flash, the home side bounded back up the pitch, with O’Neill causing problems down the right, before squaring to Rhys Gorman on the edge of the Salthill box. Gorman had acres of space but hit a mystifying weak shot which Keane didn’t even have to dive to claim.
Moments later, Town had the lead. The livewire O’Neill was at the heart of the action, as he latched onto a through ball and crept into the box, he was clipped by Shane O’Rourke. David O’Sullivan coolly placed the ball home, sending Keane the wrong way.
The games’ 2nd and 3rd quarters were turgid affairs, with both sides sorely lacking in industry.
Gary Shaw had a glorious chance on 67 minutes, after Salthill had dealt poorly with the aerial ball. However, Shaw, only 16 yard out, was hesitant and gingerish about snapping up the chance and, hassled by the Salthill’s Gaul hit a tame shot into Keane’s arms.
Eventually on 69 minutes, substitute Josh O’Hanlon made it 2-0. A dreadfully misplaced pass back to the keeper fell at O’Hanlon’s feet. Keane dived at his feet and the ball bobbled clear. However, with the Salthill defenders merely spectators, O Hanlon had enough time to recollect the ball, swivel and fire the ball home from 12 yards.
Five minutes later, O’Sullivan claimed his 19th goal of the season. Josh O’Hanlon manufactured a corner down the right wing. It was poorly dealt with by the frantic and uncertain Salthill defence and only cleared as far as O’Brien on the edge of the box. His well struck volley was parried by the valiant Keane but O’Sullivan reacted quickest and poked the ball home from the rebound.
The Town began to enjoy themselves in the final quarter as the Salthill players were simply counting down to the final whistle. On 87 minutes, Josh Hanlon struck the goal of the evening, rifling home an excellent, angled shot from 30 yards out after cutting in from the right wing.
So, Longford Town stay in the hunt for promotion to the Premier Division while Salthill Devon sit at the foot of the table six points adrift of Cobh Ramblers.
Longford Town: Chris Bennion; Noel Haverty, Des Hope, Corie Tracey (C), Willie Tyrrell (Keith Quinn, 43); David O’Neill (Daniel Purdy, 72); Rhys Gorman, Ryan O’Connolly, Derek O’Brien, Gary Shaw (Josh O’Hanlon, 65); David O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Dean Ebbe, Brian McCarthy.
Booked: O’Neill (68), Connolly (80), Hope (83).
Salthill Devon: James Keane; Evan Preston-Kelly, Brian Geraghty, Robbie Gaul, Shane O’Rourke, Alex Byrne, Jason Murphy, Craig Harding, Ronan Conlan (Ryan Ludden 82); Oscar Sibanda (Dan Cunningham 76); Danny Campion (Timmy Malloy 63).
Subs not used: Andrew Walsh.
Referee: Alan Sherlock.
Extratime Man of the Match: David O’Sullivan (Longford Town) – The classy striker increased his tally to 19 league goals for this season.