FINN HARPS recorded their first away victory of the season and in doing so inflicted a first home defeat of the season on league leaders Longford Town on Saturday night.
Longford Town 2
Finn Harps 3
This result see Harps move back into third spot and to within four points of the Town. The Midlands venue is becoming a happy haunting ground for the Ballybofey side - they won both their meetings there last season and now have recorded another win thanks to goals from Sean McCarron, Kevin McHugh and a Willo McDonagh own goal.
It was the home side who started well and in the 10th minute Keith Quinn’s corner from the right found Brian McCarthy but the defender blasted his effort over the bar. Minutes later Gary Shaw forced Ciaran Gallagher into making a save.
In the 16th minute David O’Sullivan was unlucky to see his low drive go wide of the far post. But two minutes later and out of nothing Finn Harps broke the deadlock; Town defenders stood off McCarron and he was given enough space and time to pick a spot and shoot past Chris Bennion.
Town tried to get back on level terms and in the 21st minute Noel Haverty played a neat ball to O’Sullivan but Gallagher did very well to come out and save at the striker’s feet. Then, in the space of a minute, the game turned very much in Harps’ favour. Daniel Purdy was through on goal in the 33rd minute and was taken down in the box but referee Sean Grant waved away Town’s penalty claims.
With the Town players still remonstrating with the official Harps seized the initiative and played a long ball up the field where McHugh found himself one on one with McCarthy. The Harps player showed just why he’s the best around, beating defending and coolly finishing from close range.
Seven minutes after the first penalty appeal the home side had another one waved away when Haverty was pushed in the box by Harps’ Damien McNulty. The decision incensed the Town bench with manager Tony Cousins getting very animated on the sideline.
With Harps very much in control the home side knew they’d have to really up their game after the break. They were unlucky not to pull a goal back in the 58th minute but Gallagher did well to save from Mark Salmon. The ball wasn’t cleared properly and it eventually fell to O’Sullivan but his effort came crashing off the underside of the crossbar.
Despite having a lot of possession Town failed then to create chances with Harps standing firm and defending resolutely. In the 81st minute the visitors extended their lead; McHugh did all the hard work to get to the endline and whip in a decent cross and Town defender McDonagh sliced his clearance into his own net.
In the final 10 minutes Town piled on the pressure and in the 88th minute Salmon got onto the end of Purdy’s cross to pull a goal back. They went searching for a second and that came three minutes into additional time through Michael Isichei. Try as they might they couldn’t pull off another late late show in the dying seconds and Harps held on for an important win.
Longford Town: Chris Bennion; Noel Haverty, Willo McDonagh, Brian McCarthy, Willie Tyrell (Michael Isichei 80); Daniel Purdy, Gavin Doyle (Keith Gillespie 54), Mark Salmon, Keith Quinn (Etanda Nkololo 38); Gary Shaw, David O’Sullivan.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; James Doherty, Thomas McGonagle (Michael Doherty 84), Keith Cowan, Ciaran Coll; Michael Funston, Damien McNulty, Tommy Bonner, Gary Merritt (Matt Harkin 75); Sean McCarron (Shaun McGowan 90), Kevin McHugh.
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford)