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Premier Division leaders St. Patrick’s Athletic overcame the stiff challenge of First Division leaders Longford Town to advance to the semi-final of the Leinster Senior Cup on Tuesday night.
After 90 plus minutes of football failed to produce a goal, just six minutes of the first period of extra-time had elapsed when Pat’s scored the opening goal through Anto Flood. Four minutes into the second period Conan Byrne got their second and there was no way back for Longford.
A combination of poor finishing from Pat’s, good goalkeeping and resolute defending saw Longford force the game to extra-time and it looked as if penalties would have to decide the tie but Pat’s class told in the end.
Longford to be fair had chances in the game but they really missed the threat of leading goal-scorer David O’Sullivan who remained on the bench.
It was the Midlanders who started brighter and created the first chance on goal in the 4th minute but Gary Shaw failed to get his header on target. Minutes later they had another chance; Josh O’Hanlon’s cross met the head of Michael Isichei but his effort is cleared by Sean Gannon.
The home side then began to gradually get a hold on the game with Jake Kelly and Marco Chindea (twice) forcing Longford keeper Paul Hunt into making good saves.
Pat’s continued to pile on the pressure but the Longford defence stood firm as the sides went in at the break scoreless. 8 minutes into the second-half Kelly had a glorious chance for his side but his perfectly hit free just went inches wide.
Longford should’ve opened the scoring in the 62nd minute; O’Hanlon did well to break down the wing and put in a perfect ball to David O’Neill but the player blasted his effort wide when it was easier to score.
The home side then enjoyed another purple patch but couldn’t find a way to break the deadlock; a Kelly header from a Chindea cross went wide before Flood just couldn’t connect to a neat ball in from Chindea.
Pat’s manager Liam Buckley decided to introduce Chris Forrester and Conan Byrne to the fray to try and settle the game in normal time but his side just couldn’t get that elusive goal and the game went to extra-time.
Pat’s started extra-time with a real purpose and six minutes in they finally opened the scoring when Gannon’s cross was headed home by Flood.
Longford had a great chance to draw level in the 108th minute but Daniel Purdy’s stinging shot was saved by Dave Ryan. One minute later and Pat’s doubled their advantage; Jordan Keegan’s effort came off the post but Byrne was on hand to finish from close range. There was no way back for Longford at that stage as Pat’s went on to book their semi-final spot.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Dave Ryan; Sean Gannon, Aidan Price, Sean Hoare, Jake Carroll; Stephen Maher (Conor Kenna 119), Jake Kelly, Jordan Keegan, Marco Chindea (Conan Byrne 84); Conor Murphy, Anto Flood.
Subs not used: Brendan Clarke, Daniel Campbell.
Booked: Stephen Maher (100).
Longford Town: Paul Hunt; Corie Tracey (Gavin Doyle 83), Willo McDonagh, Brian McCarthy, Keith Quinn; David O’Neill, Keith Gillespie, Mark Salmon (Aaron Brilly 50), Michael Isichei; Gary Shaw (Daniel Purdy 46), Josh O’Hanlon.
Subs not used: Chris Bennion, David O’Sullivan, Gary Cronin.
Booked: Keith Gillespie (39), Brian McCarthy (53).
Referee: Rob Harvey.