Ger Grimes reports from United Park
An Aaron Dobbs strike on the stroke of half time gave Longford Town a 1-0 victory over Drogheda United at United Park on Friday night.
It was the Boynesiders who looked to have taken an early lead however as Luke Heeney on the right cut the ball back across goal for Chris Lyons to slot home at the near post.
However, the linesman’s flag was up for offside and the goal was disallowed.
Longford’s first chance came on the break as Mark Hughes lost possession on the halfway line.
That allowed Peter Hopkins to break forward, playing in Dean Byrne but he overran the ball as he looked set to shoot and the ball ran through to Gratzer.
The sides were exchanging chances at this point as Lyons and Heeney again linked up with the latter shooting straight at Lee Steacy.
Longford’s first shot of the game on 19 minutes saw Dobbs find space in the box before shooting narrowly wide.
It was Dobbs who had the best change of the game five minutes later, brilliant controlling a ball that was played behind him, turning and firing towards the far bottom corner.
However, he saw his shot saved by an equally brilliant save from Drogheda goalkeeper Luca Gratzer.
Longford kept pressing and a minute later had another chance as a header from a corner in a crowded box was blocked by Drogheda’s Mark Doyle before the Boynesiders managed to clear.
The away side did go in at the break in front though, as Dobbs was played in down the left in acres of space. He cut in and slotted the ball home into the far corner past Gratzer.
It took almost 15 minutes for the second half to see it’s first chance and it was perhaps Drogheda’s best opportunity of the game.
Lyons did brilliantly to keep the ball in play, heading it down to defender Luke McNally, who had found himself on the left wing.
McNally lofted a ball up to the back post for Mark Doyle to connect with but Drogheda’s top scorer so far this season could only watch as his effort bounced wide of the far post.
The introduction of Sean Brennan into Drogheda’s midfield sparked a bit more of an attacking threat.
First, he played a ball that split the Longford defence, into the feet of Lyons. He turned and shot but it lacked power and rolled wide.
Brennan was now on set pieces for Drogheda and a corner delivered on 73 minutes to Lyons saw the forward get the flick on it but he couldn’t send it goalwards.
Longford had their only real chance of the second half two minutes later and should have made it 2-0.
Two substitutes linked up as Sam Verdon found the unmarked Karl Chambers in space on the edge of the Drogheda box.
He took a touch and looked to fire past Gratzer but instead his effort flew over the bar.
Drogheda’s next set piece saw Brennan force Steacy into a great save low to his right from a free kick on the edge of the area, after the Drogheda man curled the ball around the wall.
Steacy’s save saw a goalmouth scramble follow as Drogheda twice looked to find the back of the net before the ball eventually ended up over the bar and out for a Longford goal kick.
Drogheda continued to press for an equaliser and came closest from another Brennan free, this time delivered to the back post from and met by a diving header from Luke Gallagher, only for it to hit the side netting.
Longford’s defence, which has conceded just two goals in eleven games so far this season, was well organised throughout and held on for a 1-0 win to keep Longford’s place at the top of the league with a game in hand.
Drogheda United: Luca Gratzer; James Brown, Luke Gallagher, Luke McNally, Conor Kane; Mark Hughes, Jake Hyland (C) (James Clarke 80), Luke Heeney (Sean Brennan 69); Stephen Meaney, Chris Lyons, Mark Doyle.
Unused Subs: Dan Grace (GK), Kevin Farragher, Cian Kavanagh, Jordan Adeyemo, Jay Amour.
Booked: Mark Doyle (30).
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Shane Elworthy, Mick McDonnell, Conor Kenna, Anto Breslin; Dean Byrne (C), Kevin Knight, Aodh Dervin; Peter Hopkins (Karl Chambers 72’), Aaron Dobbs (Sam Verdon 66’), Dean Byrne (Joe Manley 93).
Unused Subs: Jack Menton (GK), Carlton Ubaezuono, Paul O’Conor, Sean Brennan.
Booked: Kevin Knight (29), Shane Elworthy (71).
Referee: Michael Connolly.
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Conor Kenna (Longford Town).