Longford Town 2 Drogheda United 1

Dylan Grimes and Sam Verdon struck as Longford Town leap frogged Drogheda United into second place in the SSE Airtricity League First Division writes Tony Ghee.

Longford are now just five points behind leaders Shelbourne with seven matches remaining as automatic promotion is now back on track for Neale Fenn’s charges ahead of next week’s crucial top four clash away to Cabinteely.

The visitors had the first opportunity on 13 minutes when Stephen Meaney’s 25-yard shot flew just wide of the Town post.

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Longford dominated possession in the opening half-hour but failed to breach the Drogheda rear-guard.

Longford came close on 18 minutes, Aaron Dobbs sprinted past Luke Gallagher, cut inside from the left and rifled a shot from a tight angle that was saved by the feet of Drogheda keeper Luca Gratzer.

Jack Doherty’s rebound effort was blocked away by a visiting defender.

Four minutes later Town created another chance down the left, This time Anto Breslin charged into the Drogheda box but his angled strike whistled just wide of the far post.

On the half-hour mark a shot on the turn from Longford new boy Grimes was saved by Gratzer. Two minutes later Drogs where ahead totally against the run of play.

Mark Doyle poked the ball across to Meaney who somehow managed to squeeze a weakly hit 16-yard effort through a crowded penalty area to the Longford net.

Drogheda came close to extending their lead eight minutes before the break when the unmarked Gallagher headed a Sean Brennan free-kick onto the top of the Longford net.

The home side deservedly equalised on 39 minutes when Doherty found Grimes inside the Drogheda box, he brilliantly shielded the ball before cleverly back-heeling the ball into the bottom left corner of the Drogheda net.

A minute before the break Drogheda left-back Conor Kane ran onto a pass from James Clarke and raced into the Town box before unleashing a shot that just cleared the bar.

Six minutes before time, Conor Kenna’s header from a Dean Zambra free-kick was just too high, much to the relief of the visitors’ defence.

However Drogheda’s relief was short-lived as Town hit the front just a minute later as substitute Verdon headed home Breslin’s left-wing cross to secure three valuable points for Longford Town.

Longford Town (4-1-4-1): Steacy, Elworthy, McDonnell, Kenna, Breslin, Zambra, Grimes (Hopkins 64), Dervin, Doherty (Verdon 77), Chambers, Dobbs.

Drogheda Utd (4-2-3-1): Gratzer, Heeney, Gallagher, McNally, Kane, Brennan, Hyland, McPhillips (Adeyemo 45), Clarke (O’Shea 77), Doyle, Meaney

Referee: Alan Patchell