Longford Town 0-1 Shelbourne (Jordan Keegan 11′)
Shelbourne travelled to Strokestown Road on Friday night on their first away game of the season – against Longford Town, in what was already being dubbed a ‘Top of the Table’ clash, both side sharing top position after winning their first game of the season – Shelbourne at home to Wexford Youths and Longford away to Galway FC.
Shelbourne started the game at a high tempo, playing fast fluid football and not allowing the home side settle. Constant attacks on the Longford goal paid off after eleven minutes, with Jordan Keegan scoring his first goal for his new club. Following a rare home attack, thwarted by Shels keeper Greg Murray, the ball was quickly moved up the field to Keegan, who made no mistake in pushing the ball past ex-Shelbourne ‘keeper Chris Bennion.
And the wave of attacks continued to come from the visitors, with several attempts on Bennion’s goal, notably from Lee Murtagh, Keegan again, Dylan Connolly and Conor Murphy. Longford’s efforts to get into the game before half time culminated with a free on the edge of the box, when a strangely out-of-sorts Don Cowan was awarded a free just on the edge of the penalty box, but the attempt came to nothing.
Whatever was said in the dressing-room at half time, by manager Tony Cousins, had the desired effect, as his Longford players certainly showed more interest on their return to the pitch than the showed in the first-half. They immediately went into the attack and sustained the pressure on the Reds defence for most of the second half.
Just four minutes into the second period, Cowan’s speed on the right caught out Philip Hand and he had to resort to fouling the number 11, for which he received a yellow card. The resultant free kick came to nothing. Another free from the left by Lorcan Shannon promised more but Gorman’s header cleared the crossbar, when he should have at least got it on target.
On 67 minutes, Longford had their best chance of the game. David O’Sullivan saw a header come back off the crossbar, the rebound coming to Kevin O’Connor, but his weak shot was easily cleared by the Shels defence.
No matter what was thrown at the Shelbourne defence, Murray’s goal remained intact, sometimes by blanket defence by the Reds, who were prepared to put their bodies on the line for the cause, and sometimes from off-target shooting by the home attack. Shelbourne had a free shortly before the final whistle, which was taken by second half substitution Gareth Coughlan. His curling free bounced in front of Bennion, who initially had difficulty in collecting it ahead of the incoming forwards, but eventually claimed it. This was the last of the attacking action and the Dublin side saw out the three minutes added to become the only Airtricity League side to have a 100% record after just two series of games.
Longford Town 0, Shelbourne 1
Longford Town: Chris Bennion, Glen O’Connor, James Mulhall, Pat Flynn, Pat Sullivan, Rhys Gorman, Stephen Rice, Lorcan Shannon (Sean Russell 77′), Peter Hynes (Kevin O’Connor 46′), Don Cowan (Gary Shaw 70′), David O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Lee Higgins, Chris Deans, Wilie Tyrell.
Shelbourne: Greg Murray, Brian Gannon, Lee Desmond, Willo McDonagh, Philip Hand, Stephen McDonnell, Jordan Keegan (Gareth Coughlan 78′), Keith Quinn, Dylan Connolly, Lee Murtagh, Conor Murphy (Darren Tinnelly 81′).
Subs notused: Stephen Sheerin, Michael Duffy, Shane Dolan, Simon Dixon, Charlei Tracey.
Booked: Philip Hand, Keith Quinn, Dylan Connolly