St. Patrick's Athletic put down a marker for their European adventures when they got their fourth consecutive win in all competitions on Friday night as they beat a spirited Longford Town 3-0 at Richmond Park thanks to a Chris Forrester double and a second-half James Chambers strike.
However, the home side had to bide their time for the opener as, despite their attacking threat, Longford looked the more reassured side in executing their game plan with defensive solidity countering the threat of Pat's long ball strategy in the first-half.
An early chance created by a Chambers cross was met by the swooping volley of Ian Bermingham, an effort not dissimilar to the one which lead to Christy Fagan's second goal against Bohemiams earlier this month – but the shot dragged narrowly wide of Paul Skinner's post.
Aaron Greene came closer to breaking the deadlock when Ger O'Brien's cross on the right-wing fell low to meet Greene's diving header, but his attempt bobbled between him and Longford 'keeper Skinner before being cleared from danger.
But despite Longford's persistance, the Saints finally made the breakthrough in the 18th minute. Sean Hoare's raking crossfield ball from inside his own half found the untracked run of Forrester behind Longford right-back Jamie Mulhall.
The 22 year old took control of the ball with reassuring grace and cut inside before lobbing the ball exquisitely over the despairing dive of Skinner to put Liam Buckley's men 1-0 up. Forrester's new haircut undoubtedly played a contrived tactical role in the move.
A Longford reaction arrived from the constant attacking threats of Kaleem Simon and Gary Shaw. A powerful individual run from the latter produced the Town's closest chance of the opening period, which was knocked over the bar by the sliding effort of Mark Salmon.
But the efforts of Tony Cousins' side were cancelled out when Greene was brought down by the challenge of Longford full-back Martin Deady inside the box two minutes before half-time following a neat threaded pass by Greg Bolger. Forrester stood over the penalty and pummled the ball into the back of the net for his second of the night, with the Saints heading into the interval two goals to the good.
And it got better for Pat's four minutes after the restart as they made it 3-0. Conor McCormack, playing in midfield, dribbled courageously down the left flank, a cheeky step-over giving him the space to put in a low cross which beat everyone in the box bar the unmarked James Chambers, who gleefully slotted home to put Pat's out of sight.
Five minutes later, the Inchicore side almost added a fourth when Forrester's pass allowed Jamie McGrath – making his first senior league start – to beat the offside trap, but the original ball through had too much weight and Skinner rushed out to smother.
Longford almost got a goal back through an individual run and cross from Stephen Rice who found David O'Sullivan inside the Saints' penalty area – but the chance was cleared in a move showing the guile, or lack of, that separated the sides when converting their respective goal scoring opportunities.
Splitting long balls through the Inchicore night's sky was very much in fashion throughout the game as another served up by Chambers picked out Bermingham on the left wing, with the full-back's resulting cross headed inches wide by Greene.
Aymen Ben Mohamed made an impact off the bench for Longford as he latched onto a loose ball to drive past Bermingham and cut inside to dummy both Sean Hoare and Jason McGuninness, but his weak shot dragged wide of the post in the Midlanders' closest chance of the second-half.
Despite the three-goal deficit, Longford front-man Shaw continued to stretch Pat's with his physical presence. His driving run to the by-line allowed him to cross for Ben Mohamed at the far post, but again the end product was lacking for the visitors.
Longford continued to venture forward in search of a consolation at least, but it was the home side who came closest to adding a fourth goal to the game, with Forrester nearly sealing his hat-trick in the 86th minute – but having left Skinner flailing with a dip of the shoulder, the winger's close range effort was blocked on the line by Conor Powell.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O'Brien, Sean Hoare, Jason McGuninness, Ian Bermingham; Greg Bolger (Lee Desmond, 75), Conor McCormack, James Chambers (Sam Verdon, 63); Chris Forrester, Aaron Greene, Jamie McGrath (Morgan Langley, 70).
Subs not used: Conor O'Malley (gk), Kenny Browne, Conan Byrne, Ciaran Kilduff.
Longford Town: Paul Skinner; Jamie Mulhall, Rhys Gorman, Mark Rossiter, Martin Deady (Lorcan Shannon, 74); Kaleem Simon (David O'Sullivan, 46), Stephen Rice, Kevin O'Connor, Conor Powell; Mark Salmon (Aymen Ben Mohamed, 60), Gary Shaw.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt (gk), Conor Dunne.
Bookings: Deady (43).
Referee: Paul Tuite
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Aaron Greene (St. Patrick's Athletic).