A brace from Philly Gorman gave Athlone Town a deserved win over league leaders and great rivals Longford Town in the El Clasico de Midlands on Friday night.
With the torrential downpour before the game making the pitch very heavy the game was of poor quality but Athlone were the better side throughout the game and this win moves them to within six points of Longford as the league takes a break for two weeks.
Longford never got into the game at all; all credit to Athlone who had a game plan which they stuck to. Their defence marshalled Longford’s leading goalscorer David O’Sullivan very well while the front two of Gorman and Garbhan Coughlan ran Longford’s defence ragged.
Longford should have broken the deadlock in the 6th minute; Keith Gillespie played a perfect pass to the Keith Quinn but his curling effort went narrowly wide.
The visitors were to rue that miss three minutes later when Athlone took the lead; Barry Clancy flicked the ball onto Gorman who lobbed Chris Bennion who was well off his line.
Athlone were buoyed by that goal and went in search of their second. In the 14th minute Roddy Collins Jnr got forward but instead of passing to a team-mate he decided to take a shot which he blasted over the bar.
Minutes later and Longford defender Brian McCarthy had to put in a well-timed tackle on Coughlan who got into a dangerous position.
It was all Athlone as Longford failed to get a grip on the game. When the ball did go up to O’Sullivan he was tightly marked by the Athlone defence. In the 22nd minute Gary Shaw couldn’t get his header on target after a cross from David O’Neill.
After a slow start Longford slowly began to come into the game and in the 28th minute they very nearly got back on level terms but Daniel Purdy’s free-kick went the wrong side of the bottom post.
Neither side could muster up many chances after that with the home side coming very close to doubling their advantage in the 41st minute; Barry Clancy’s powerful free from about 40 yards out was pushed over the bar by Bennion.
Athlone looked threatening nearly every time they went forward and eight minutes after the break Bennion pulled off a good save to deny James O’Brien who was in on goal. Down the other end Mark Salmon’s rasping shot forced Paul Skinner into making a save.
In the 61st minute Athlone got their second; Willie Tyrrell bundled over Coughlan in the box and Gorman coolly dispatched the spot-kick.
Athlone continued to press while Longford lived off scraps. In the 77th minute Coughlan should have done better with his effort which Bennion was able to get down to. Purdy was guilty of being wasteful one minute later hitting a tame shot at Skinner.
The game then petered out as a contest with Athlone holding firm while Longford failed to create anything that would bring them back into the game. This result makes for an interesting second-half to the season.
Athlone Town: Paul Skinner; Roddy Collins Jnr, Aidan Collins, Robbie Clarke, Neil Harney; Mark Hughes (Niall Scullion 66), Garvan Broughall, James O’Brien, Barry Clancy; Garbhan Coughlan Philip Gorman.
Subs not used: Craig Sexton, Toyeeb Mustapha, Conor McMeniman, Niall Lanigan, David Brookes.
Bookings: James O’Brien (11), Aidan Collins (74), Philly Gorman (87).
Longford Town: Chris Bennion; David O’Neil, Corie Tracey, Willie Tyrrell; Gary Shaw, Mark Salmon (Rhys Gorman 70) Keith Gillespie (Gavin Doyle 59), Daniel Purdy; Keith Quinn (Josh O’Hanlon 59); David O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Noel Haverty, Michael Isichei, Glenn O’Connor.
Booking: David O’Neill (24), Keith Gillespie (56).
Referee: Adriano Reale (Kildare).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Garbhan Coughlan (Athlone Town).