Longford Town -v- Athlone TownSat, Jul 07 2012
Longford Town will be hoping to make it three wins out of three against their near rivals Athlone Town when the sides meet in the third El Classico of the season in Flancare Park on Saturday night (kick-off 7.30pm).
Longford have twice defeated Athlone 2-1 this season but are fully aware that form goes out the window whenever these two sides meet.
This is Longford’s first home game since their 2-0 defeat to Limerick back at the beginning of June. Since they returned from the mid-season break they have defeated Finn Harps 3-1 and Mervue United 5-4.
That result in Mervue last weekend showed the true character of this Longford side; coming from 3-0 down at the break to snatch a dramatic winner in stoppage time thanks to a Mark Salmon penalty.
Alan Kirby had a huge impact on the game in Mervue when he came on as a second-half substitute; scoring one and the provider of two. The midfielder knows how important this Midlands Derby is.
“We are at home and we want to play well. At this stage of the season it’s all about winning. We are now coming up against teams that we have beaten twice along the way and they don’t want to be beaten a third time. It’s going to get tougher and tougher for us.”
Longford will be minus the services of James O’Brien and ex Athlone Town players Austin Skelly and Des Hope for the game; all are out through injury.
As Athlone Town continue to make a push for a play-off spot they’ll be hoping it’ll be third time lucky for them in Flancare Park.
Mike Kerley’s side have been on the receiving end of two 2-1 defeats by their rivals this season. In both games Athlone came from behind to draw level only for Longford to go on and get that decisive second goal.
Since Kerley took over as manager of Athlone Town he hasn’t a good record in El Classico games; his first and only victory came in their last meeting of last season at Flancare Park and they’ve also drawn one game.
Athlone come into this game on the back of a 2-0 home win against SD Galway last weekend but injuries, suspension and unavailability have hampered their preparations for this weekend. Mark Walsh, Paul Danaher and Warren Conroy are all out through injury while Niall Scullion is considered a doubt. Former Longford Town player Brian McCarthy is suspended for the game while Garvan Broughall, Stephen Relihan and Scott Gaynor are all unavailable.
The good news is that Ross Kenny has returned to training and should be in contention for a starting place and some of the new signings could also figure in the game.
Referee: Alan Mullally
In their two previous meetings this season; Longford have beaten Athlone 2-1.
Athlone Town manager Mike Kerley has tasted success just once over his side’s biggest rivals.
Athlone’s Noel McGee has scored four goals in the last four meetings between these sides.
Longford Town 8/15; Draw 13/5; Athlone Town 5/1.
Form really does go out the window between these two sides but I think the home side should just edge it; hat-trick of 2-1 wins for Longford Town.
Longford Town Injury News: Austin Skelly, James O’Brien and Des Hope
Longford Town Suspended: None
Athlone Town Injury News: Paul Danaher, Mark Walsh, Warren Conroy and Niall Scullion (doubtful)
Athlone Town Suspended: Brian McCarthy