Longford Town can return to the summit of the SSE Airtricity First Division when they take on inconsistent Galway United in a bank holiday humdinger at the City Calling Stadium (kick-off 5pm).
De Town will be aiming to get back to winning ways and return to the top of the league by taking the scalp of Galway United on Monday evening.
Longford are looking to bounce back from the disappointment of going down 1-0 to Shelbourne last Friday evening at Tolka Park.
It was a very closely fought contest and both sides went at each other hammer and tongs, and the spoils looked set to be shared until Shels were awarded a penalty with 11 minutes remaining.
The experienced Conan Byrne kept a cool head and promptly dispatched the spot-kick to bring joy to the Drumcondra faithful and the home side dug in to run out narrow winners.
The result means that Longford find themselves four points adrift of Shels, although they have played a game fewer than their promotion rivals.
Neal Fenn’s charges have suffered a slump in form in recent weeks having lost 3 of their last 4 league matches to Cabinteely (0-1), Galway United (2-1), and Shelbourne (1-0) with their only win a 3-1 win against Athlone Town at the City Calling Stadium.
De Town had been on a fantastic unbeaten run of 10 league matches since the start of the season with seven wins and three draws putting them firmly in the box seat and many people’s favourite for automatic promotion to the Premier Division.
Goals have been hard to come by for Longford Town this season having scored 17 goals in their 14 matches averaging just over a goal per game.
They do enjoy the best defensive record in the league having conceded only seven goals and they have kept eight clean sheets so far.
It would be an understatement to say that this has been a disappointing league campaign to date for Alan Murphy’s side.
This is a must-win game for United to keep alive their slim hopes of mounting a challenge for promotion.
United could only manage a 0-0 draw against a stubborn Cabinteely last Friday evening at Terryland Park.
Galway huffed and puffed but could not blow the Cabo house down and were left frustrated at full-time whistle and had to settle for a point.
The result did at least arrest a run of two successive league defeats at the hands of Bray Wanderers (2-1) and Drogheda United (3-0) in recent weeks.
“The Cabinteely game was definitely a step up from Drogheda in terms of performance, which was welcome and needed,” Murphy told the club’s website.
We performed well against Cabinteely and probably had the better chances in the game and should’ve won it. I can’t fault my players effort and application though.
“We go into the Longford game with a renewed confidence, looking to test ourselves against the elite in the First Division which is definitely Longford.
“It’s going to be a real test for my squad having two games over the Bank Holiday weekend.”
Galway made an awful start to the season, registering one win in their first seven league matches, but have managed to pick up ten points in their last seven league games.
United have also struggled for consistency in front of goal, having scored only 16 goals in their 15 matches so far.
Defensive difficulties have dogged the Tribesmen this season so far having shipped 18 goals and only being able to keep three clean sheets.
United boss Murphy has had the added headache of having to contend with an extensive injury list with Andrew Peters (ankle), Adam Rooney (foot), Iarfhlaith Davoren (quad), Joe Collins (knee), Conor Barry (calf), Jeff McGowan (hamstring) and Conor Layng (cruciate ligament) all in the treatment room.
To add insult to injury, Conor Melody is also unavailable due to a suspension, while Donal Higgins and Colin Kelly miss out with Leaving Cert commitments.
Referee: David Dunne
Longford Town and Galway United met each other in the league just two weeks ago at Terryland Park with United just edging it 2-1.
De Town and United have played each other 16 times in all competitions since 2008 with Longford having the marginally better head to head record with six wins to Galway’s five and five draws.
Longford Town scored a total of 23 goals in those 16 matches, averaging 1.44 per game while Galway United scored 24 goals in the 16 matches averaging 1.5 per game.
De Town are currently in third place in the SSE Airtricity First Division on 27 points from their 14 matches with eight wins, three draws and three defeats.
United are currently eighth on 12 points from their 15 matches with four wins, one draw and nine defeats.
Longford Town 4/7 Draw 11/4 Galway United 4/1
Longford Town 2 – 0 Galway United
Injured: Andrew Peters (ankle), Adam Rooney (foot), Iarfhlaith Davoren (quad), Joe Collins (knee), Conor Barry (calf), Jeff McGowan (hamstring), Conor Layng (cruciate ligament)
Suspended: Conor Melody
Unavailable: Donal Higgins and Colin Kelly (Leaving Cert commitments).