Premier Division side Longford Town will rue missed chances after they were held by First Division leaders Finn Harps in their FAI Cup second round tie on Friday night and the sides must do it all again on Monday in a replay.
Longford squandered several opportunities to win this tie but a combination of poor finishing and some good goalkeeping from Ciaran Gallagher made sure Harps stayed in the competition.
It was a battling performance from Harps who had to play over 70 minutes with 10 men after Damien McNulty was sent off for a reckless challenge on Kaleem Simon. They had a number of players booked and when Ciaran Coll received a yellow in stoppage time manager Ollie Horgan was sent to the stand by referee Rob Rogers.
The home side bossed the early exchanges; Kaleem Simon was way off target in the 10th minute after he had been played in by Kevin O’Connor while minutes later Simon turned provider for Mark Salmon who really should’ve done better with his effort.
After a few tough challenges went in Harps were reduced to 10 men in the 20th minute when McNulty was shown a straight red. Minutes after that sending off, and against the run of play, Harps took the lead with a lovely strike from Gareth Harkin.
Town tried to get back into the game and O’Connor brought a save out of Gallagher. In the 38th minute Town were denied a penalty when Martin Deady’s shot came off the arm of Harkin but to the amazement of the majority of people in the stadium the referee turned down the home side’s penalty claims.
Three minutes from the break Town drew level when midfielder Stephen Rice finished from close range. The home side had the majority of possession in the second half but just couldn’t find a way past a resilient Gallagher in the Harps goals.
The closet Town came to taking the lead was in the 71st minute but O’Connor’s powerful shot came off the crossbar and substitute David O’Sullivan fired over the rebound.
O’Sullivan brought a save out of Gallagher in the 85th minute while the Harps netminder got down to Rhys Gorman’s effort minutes later as Town piled on the pressure in a hope of getting a winner. But it wasn’t to be and they now face a trip to Finn Park on Monday night.
Longford Town: Paul Skinner; Pat Sullivan, Mark Rossiter, Rhys Gorman, Martin Deady (Conor Powell 65); Mark Salmon (David O’Sullivan 65), Stephen Rice, Kevin O’Connor, Ayman Ben Mohamed; Kaleem Simon (Lorcan Shannon 82), Gary Shaw.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt (gk), Jamie Mulhall, Willie Tyrrell, Conor Dunne.
Bookings: O’Connor (13), Rice (30), Sullivan (55)
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Keith Cowan, Packie Mailey (Matt Crossan 86), Tommy McMonagle; Damien McNulty, Michael Funston, Tony McNamee, Raymond Foy (Josh Mailey 72), Ciaran Coll; Kevin McHugh (Garbhan Friel 79), Gareth Harkin.
Subs not used: Tommy Lee McCarron (gk), Darragh Black, Wilfred Tagbo.
Bookings: Foy (68), Funston (71), McMonagle (87), (Coll 91).
Sent-off: McNulty (20).
Referee: Rob Rogers
Extratime Man of the Match: Stephen Rice (Longford Town).