A first half goal from defender Noel Haverty was enough to give Longford Town all three points against Wexford Youths on Saturday night and in doing so restore their four point advantage at the top of the First Division table.
Haverty’s fourth goal of the season moves him up to joint top scorer at the club, alongside Colm James, and the defender has scored as many goals this season as all the Town strikers combined.
This result was only the second time LOngford have kept a clean sheet this season but it could’ve been very different at the end when Wexford Youths went in search of an equaliser and had good claims for a penalty turned down in the 90th minute when Tom Elmes’ shot appeared to strike a Town player’s arm in a crowded box.
The game should’ve been wrapped up by Longford before that but some terrible finishing meant there would be a nervy final few minutes as the visitors tried to get something out of the game.
It wasn’t a great spectacle and the chances that were fluffed, especially by the home side, left a lot to be desired. There weren’t too many decent scoring chances created in the first half, Mark Salmon and Gary Shaw both having efforts that they should have done better with for Longford, while Paul Malone and Tom Elmes came close for the visitors. Elmes in particular should’ve found the target with his shot in the 27th minute.
Town started to apply the pressure just around the half hour mark and forced three corners in a row, opening the scoring from the third when Keith Gillespie’s delivery was finished by Haverty. Although a Wexford defender tried to clear the ball the linesman, who had a good view, saw that it had crossed the line.
Longford dominated the opening stages of the second-half and should’ve doubled their advantage. Jeff Flood had a chance in the 55th minute but blasted the ball over the bar. Then, in the 71st minute, Jamie Duffy wasted a glorious opportunity for the home side; Salmon did well to side-step a Wexford defender and played the ball wide to Duffy who hit the side netting instead of the back of the net with his strike.
Thomas Crawley probably wasted the Town’s best chance of the second half in the 73rd minute. From a Wexford corner Alan Kirby broke with the ball, he played the ball to Michael Lee who put in a fantastic cross into the box but, from about six yards out, Crawley directed his header wide. It would’ve been easier to score.
Another chance went abegging for the Town in the 75th minute; Gary Shaw gets possession but instead of playing the ball over to Crawley he decided to take a shot himself and his weak effort was easily saved by Wexford keeper Graham Doyle.
The Town very nearly were made rue those missed opportunities in the final seven minutes of the game as the visitors began to work hard to try and draw level. In the 83rd minute Shane Nolan was unlucky that his strike didn’t find the target. In the 90th minute a mistake by Kirby led to Elmes picking up the ball, he took aim and shot but the ball appeared to hit off a Town players arm in a crowded box. No penalty though, the loose ball came back to the striker but his effort just went inches wide.
Despite piling on the pressure in stoppage time the visitors just couldn’t get that elusive equaliser and the home side held out for another valuable win.
Longford Town: Craig Hyland; Noel Haverty, Jeff Flood, Des Hope, Thomas Crawley; Colm James (Michael Lee 46), Mark Salmon, Keith Gillespie, Alan Kirby (Sean Skelly 90+1); Gary Shaw (Austin Skelly 77), Jamie Duffy.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Graham Dowling, James O’Brien, Daniel Purdy.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Mark Phelan, CJ Browne (James Scallon 84), Jamie Carr, James Dermody (Shane Dempsey 69); Dean Broaders (Danny Furlong 41), Craig Wall, Paul Malone, Shane Nolan, Aidan Keenan; Tom Elmes.
Subs not used: Shaun Corcoran, Shane Clarke, Thomas Croke, Eric Molloy.
Bookings: Elmes (50), Keenan (75).
Referee: Darren Coombes (Dublin).
Attendance: 300 (estimate)
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Noel Haverty (Longford Town).