Early goals put Longford on course

Leeds 0 Longford Town 3

The goals, of course, effectively decided the tie but Leeds were undaunted as they faced the onerous task of trying to recover their pride and their reputation. The fact that Longford had to wait until the final minute of the match for their third goal spoke volumes for their commitment.

With Jason Yelverton and Brian Burke in defiant mood and defending effectively they made Longford work hard for their goals. Leeds attempted to play a fluid system that saw them switch from having five in midfield and a lone striker, to operating with Liam O’Connor and Liam Murphy filling more forward roles alongside Dave Welch when they were in possession. They played to a more defined 4-5-1 system in the second half when Murphy operated wide on the right and gave full-back John Kelly more support in limiting the impact of Longford’s winger Sean Prunty.

The game was only four minutes old when Longford made a clear statement of intent with the opening goal. Barry Ferguson’s free from half-way was headed into the penalty area by Sean Francis and when Paul Fitzgerald deflected the ball sideways, Dessie Baker volleyed the ball past keeper James McCarthy from 12 yards.

Longford were back for a second in the 10th minute. A corner from the right by Sean Prunty flew across the crowded goalmouth and Sean Dillon struck it cleanly for a cracking goal.

Leeds should have cut the deficit in the 20th minute when O’Connor released Eric Fleming with a clever pass on the half-way line. Fleming carried the ball for 30 yards but his finish was easily saved by Stephen O’Brien.

Longford might well have won by a bigger margin had they taken a little more care in their finishing. Baker was clean through but was robbed as goalkeeper McCarthy timed his advance cleverly to dive at his feet and midfielder Daragh Sheridan shot wildly over after being set up by substitute Shane Barrett in the 79th minute.

Barrett, the hero of Longford’s win over St Patrick’s Athletic in last season’s Cup final, made a big impression on his introduction. Lively and hungry for possession, he troubled Leeds with his pace and he had a major role to play in Longford’s third goal.

Eric Lavine, Sheridan and Dillon combined to find Barrett on the left. He sped to the end line before pulling the ball back for Alan Kirby to net from eight yards.

LEEDS (4-4-2): McCarthy; Kelly (Dowling 68), Burke (C. Yelverton 85), Fitzgerald, J. Yelverton; O’Connor, Kenneally, Graham, Fleming (Barry 75); Murphy, Welch.

LONGFORD TOWN (4-4-2): O’Brien; Murphy, Ferguson, Paisley, Dillon; Martin (Fitzgerald 74), Sheridan, Kirby, Prunty; Baker (Lavine 74), Francis (Barrett 74).

Referee: Mr D. Deady (Cork).

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