Andrew Dempsey reports from City Calling Stadium
Longford Town moved to within one point of first place Shelbourne thanks to a two goals to one victory over Galway United on Monday evening.
Dean Byrne and Sam Verdon both got on the scoresheet in a dominant first-half display from De Town before the Tribesmen hit back through Shane Doherty in the second half.
Alan Murphy’s young guns were unable to force a late equaliser. It was Neale Fenn’s stuttering Longford who held out for a much-needed three points – their second home win on the spin.
It was a fast start from Longford Town who scored twice in the opening twenty minutes. The lively Byrne, who impressed during Friday’s defeat to Shelbourne turned home at the back post.
Full-back Shane Elworthy’s fine cross from the right found the former Hardwicke striker at the back post where he was on hand to steer his shot home from a tight angle.
Galway United looked to hit back straight away and they almost grabbed an equaliser through the unfortunate Mark Hannon who saw his header saved, rather fortuitously by Lee Steacy in the Town goal.
United were punished for not taking their chance moments after through Verdon who tapped home in a near carbon copy goal to Byrne’s opener.
Anto Breslin linked up well with Longford midfielder Aodh Dervin on the left before Dervin crossed the ball across the area to the unmarked ex-St Patrick’s Athletic man who scored with his effort clipping off the bar and into Kevin Horgan’s net.
Town continued to press and should have put the result beyond all doubt through goalscorer Verdon who was found free in the penalty area by Elworthy but United survived hit the header going straight at a relieved Horgan.
Subjected to intense pressure, the best Alan Murphy’s side conjured up during the latter stages of the half was an effort by Hannon which Steacy easily saved.
Playing on the right for much of the opening period, Verdon ought to have added to his tally once more, but his glancing header just went wide with moments remaining in the half as the Tribesmen went in at the break two behind.
It was a much-improved opening to the second half from Galway United who added a real zip and pace to their game in the early stages of the half.
Despite that, it was Longford who had the first opening through Byrne, but his exquisite touch and volleyed finish was met by an alert Horgan.
Marc Ludden had a great chance after being fed in by Matthew Barrett minutes later. However, on his weaker left foot, he was unable to fire past Steacy.
Just seconds after his introduction, Shane Doherty halved the deficit with a superb lob over the onrushing Longford Town ‘keeper.
Ludden, who was having an influential game on the left flank, fed in the American striker who scored with his first touch of the game to bring Alan Murphy’s side back into the game.
While they didn’t create an awful lot, Galway forced plenty of mistakes from a sloppy Longford Town who struggled to re-assert their dominance on proceedings.
Jamie Hollywood and Sam Verdon both tried to test Horgan, but neither were able to see their efforts ripple the back of his net.
The Tribesmen bombarded Longford during the closing stages of the game with Ludden’s long throw into the box causing all sorts of problems for the Town defensive rear-guard, but the returning Dara Costelloe was unable to poke home at the back-post.
It was a nervy second-half performance from Longford Town who secured just their second win in four after a difficult May while Galway United were perhaps unfortunate to leave the Strokestown Road venue with nothing to show.
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Michael McDonnell, Conor Kenna, Shane Elworthy, Anto Breslin; Jamie Hollywood (Jamie Doyle, 75), Aodh Dervin, Dean Zambra; Sam Verdon (Joe Manley, 88), Aaron Dobbs (Karl Chambers, H/T), Dean Byrne.
Subs not used: Jack Menton, Peter Hopkins, Adam Evans, Sean Brennan.
Booked: Sam Verdon (75).
Galway United: Kevin Horgan; Christopher Horgan, Marc Ludden, Cian Murphy, Stephen Walsh; Matthew Barrett (Shane Doherty, 55), Ivan Gamarra, Mark Hannon (Dara Costelloe, 69), Maurice Nugent; Conor Barry (Joshua Keane Quinlivan, 59), Vinny Faherty.
Subs not used: Ronan Asgari, Alan Murphy, James Tierney, Wilson Waweru.
Referee: David Dunne
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Sam Verdon (Longford Town).