Finn Harps picked up their first away win of the season, and took another giant step towards Premier Division safety in the process, with a 2-0 win over bottom of the table Longford Town at City Calling Stadium on Friday night.
Goals from Josh Mailey and Tony McNamee ensured Ollie Horgan's men took all three points with them back to Donegal. Eighth place Harps – level on points with Sligo Rovers above them but behind on goal-difference – are now 11 points clear of the relegation play-off place occupied by Bray Wanderers.
For Longford, this game would have been seen as a genuine chance to start the second half of the campaign on the right note and victory would have seen them leapfrog Bray into 11th. Instead, the leakiest defence in the Premier Division conceded two more goals to leave their survival chances in real doubt.
Longford looked like breaking the deadlock first when they came close through Mark Hughes and Phillip Gannon in the early stages. Yet it was Harps who hit the front with a well worked move in the 18th minute. Ethan Boyle knocked the ball down for Mailey whose volley from the right side of the box left Town 'keeper Paul Skinner with no chance.
Sean Houston should have doubled Harps' lead when he found himself one-on-one with Skinner, but the 'keeper did well to deny the midfielder and prevent the visitors from going out of sight before the end of the first-half.
Tony Cousins' men are yet to win at home this season which is part of their problem at the moment. Goals are their other problem – only Bray have scored fewer (eight) – and David O'Sullivan, so prolific for the club in the First Division, was guilty of passing up a decent chance from close range in the 35th minute following a Kealon Dillon corner.
McNamee almost got himself on the scoresheet earlier in the tie when he latched onto a Sean Houston pass shortly after the restart, but Skinner was able to save with his feet to momentarily keep Harps at bay. Mailey was close to a second himself when Gannon cleared his header off the line.
Then, in the 74th minute, McNamee made the game safe. His cross was cut out, but he picked up the ball again and fired it past Skinner for his first goal of the season.
Longford threatened again through O'Sullivan towards the end, with Damien McNulty doing well to block, after Dillon had struck the crossbar five minutes from time. However, it was too little, too late for the Town as they crumbled to a sixth defeat in eight home league games.
Longford Town: Paul Skinner; Philip Gannon (Don Cowan, 72), Daniel O'Reilly, Conor Powell, Rhys Gorman; Kealan Dillon, Peter McGlynn (Kaleem Simon, 79), Kevin O'Connor, Mark Hughes; Lee Duffy (Josh O'Hanlon, 60), David O'Sullivan.
Subs not used: Ian Molloy (GK), Don Cowan, John McKeown, Cody Mulhall.
Booked: K Dillon (44).
Finn Harps: Richard Brush; Josh Mailey, Keith Cowan, Ciaran Coll, Damien McNulty; Tony McNamee (Michael Funston, 82), Sean Houston, Gareth Harkin (Raymond Foy, 16), Ethan Boyle, Barry Molloy; Ryan Curran (Liam Flatley, 89).
Subs not used: Ciaran Gallagher (GK), Kevin McHugh, Ryan McConnell.
Booked: D McNulty (44), R Foy (45+1), E Boyle (70).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Extratime Man of the Match: Sean Houston (Finn Harps).