Neale Fenn’s Longford Town left Stradbrook with the three points on Friday evening in what was an entertaining and action-packed game, claiming a 2-0 win over Cabinteely.
Don Cowan was the main attacking threat for the visitors, though it was Sam Verdon and David O’Sullivan got the goals in a game that should have had many more, with Cabo’s Kieran Waters missing a handful of chances, among others.
The game’s opening exchanges saw both sides looking to get forward and attack, but without any immediate urgency and it was clear that this was a match with little on the line for either side.
Both had early corners which failed to create clear chances before Kealon Dillon had the first shot of the night, attempting an audacious volley from 25-yards that, in the end, was straight down the throat of Mick Kelly and easily gathered by the Cabo ‘keeper.
Christian Lotefa then got on the end of a Gareth McCaffrey corner but, after towering higher than anyone else in the box, the midfielder could not keep his header down and his effort went over Jack Brady’s crossbar.
Cabinteely should have opened the scoring on 19 minutes, when Kieran Waters found space in the box and perfectly teed up Dean Casey inside eight yards, but the forward swung a left leg at the ball, somehow failing to make a proper connection and register a shot, allowing Longford to clear the danger.
Fenn’s side then had the ball in the net, however, referee Adriano Reale had already blown for a foul on Cowan, leaving the visitors with a free-kick. Confusion followed the free-kick in the Cabinteely box, with the ball eventually going behind for a corner. From the corner, Daniel O’Reilly climbed highest but headed off target.
Cabo had shouts for a penalty waved away by Reale as the game neared the half-hour mark. McCaffrey went down under a challenge from Alan Kehoe, but appeared to, just, win the ball before making contact with the former Shamrock Rovers forward, leaving the home players frustrated.
Then came a ten-minute spell in which Longford struggled to get over the halfway line, and which should have seen Cabinteely break the deadlock. Kevin Knight, first, found himself on the end of a Casy cross but headed wide. An excellent exchange of passes between Ryan Swan and McCaffrey on the edge of the box ended with a delightful back-heel from Swan to find McCaffrey in space only for his shot to be blocked.
Cabinteely’s best chance to take the lead fell for Waters. Lotefa showed great vision to spot the striker’s run before executing an inch-perfect pass with the outside of his boot over the Longford backline and into Waters’ stride. As the South Dublin side’s top goal scorer approached the edge of the box he pulled the trigger, but his shot went over the crossbar when he would have expected to see the net bulge.
Waters was made to rue his miss moments later as Longford took the lead. Cowan and Sam Verdon linked up on the break before Verdon’s effort from the edge of the box caught Kelly wrong footed and found its way into the bottom corner.
Half-time substitute Steven Ball looked to threaten immediately for Pat Devlin’s side and powered down the right wing from kick off. Jack Watson found space in the box and his powerful effort was turned behind by Brady.
With an hour on the clock, the visitors should have doubled their lead. A series of five efforts in a 30-second spell kept Kelly and his defence busy, with the ‘keeper making three saves and seeing two blocked before the ball eventually went out for a corner.
Cabinteely were lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch for the last 15 minutes when Conor Keeley needlessly and recklessly lunged in to a challenge deep in Longford’s half. Everyone in attendance at Stradbrook was expecting the defender to be dismissed, only for Reale to show a yellow card.
Cowan continued to be a threat for Fenn’s side on the right, and another powerful drive to the byline almost created a chance but Conor Earley defended well and deflected his cross above the oncoming crowd in the box. Another shortly after resulted in him being fouled for a free-kick, which Jake Kelly drove over.
Kaleem Simon came close to putting the result beyond doubt as the game entered the final 10 minutes as he got on the end of a cross, but his clever header back across Kelly’s goal went agonisingly wide.
Shortly after, Simon was again involved as Longford did double their lead. An excellent first touch while leaping in the air allowed him to break through the middle, then feinting to play the ball left only to slot David O’Sullivan through on the right. O’Sullivan then couldn’t miss; he approached Kelly and, keeping his composure, slipped the ball through the ‘keeper’s legs.
Cabinteely were presented with a late chance to put pressure on Longford, but Waters saw his penalty saved by Brady to cap off a frustrating night for Pat Devlin’s side.
Cabinteely: Mick Kelly, Karl Byrne, Conor Earley (76’ Paul Fox), Conor Keeley, Kevin Knight, Christian Lotefa, Jack Watson, Gareth McCaffrey (46’ Steven Ball), Ryan Swan, Kieran Waters, Dean Casey (76’ Joe Doyle).
Subs not Used: Dean Mahon, Adam Harney, Daire Doyle, Anto Dolan.
Booked: Ryan Swan (68), Conor Keeley (72).
Longford Town: Jack Brady, Tristan Noack Hofmann, Noel Haverty, Alan Kehoe (64’ Kaleem Simon), Dean Zambra, Kealon Dillon, Sam Verdon (53’ Jake Kelly), Karl Chambers, David O’Sullivan, Daniel O’Reilly, Don Cowan (78’ Peter Hopkins).
Subs not used: Adam Kenny, Aidan Friel, Rhys Gorman, Paul Finnegan.
Referee: Adriano Reale.
Attendance: 200 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Don Cowan (Longford Town).