Shelbourne 3 Longford Town 1: Report and reaction

Neale Fenn suffered his heaviest defeat to date as Longford Town manager on Saturday night at the City Calling Stadium, as Shelbourne leapfrogged ten-men Longford in the First Division standings, thanks to a 3-1 win.

Report by Kieran Burke

An early Tristan Noack Hoffmann goal, his second in as many weeks, looked to have set Town up for a comfortable evenings work at the Midlands venue, but some sloppy defending ten-minutes before the break allowed Owen Heary’s “Shels” back into the game via newly signed striker, Jamie Doyle.

With Longford now under intense Shelbourne pressure at the start of the second half, poor passing and carelessness in possession was drawing roars of frustration from the well populated main stand. While it’s safe to say Fenn’s new style of possession football has brought back a number of lapsed supporters to the City Calling Stadium, this was undoubtedly his team’s worst performance in the five-games he has overseen.

Already on a yellow card from the first-half, Daniel O’Reilly’s silly challenge from behind on a Shelbourne opponent saw the youngster receive his marching orders, and although the former Fulham player did win the ball he was always running the risk of a second booking going in from that angle….As harsh as referee McLoughlin’s decision may have seemed at the time.

Shelbourne were quick to capitalise on the extra-man and took the lead just six-minutes after the centre-halfs dismissal when a brilliant cross field ball was turned back across the face of “De Town” area where Adam Evans was lying in wait for a two-yard tap, a brilliant goal from the visitors.

New signings Paul Finnegan and Kaleem Simon were sprung from the bench by Fenn in an attempt to restore the balance of order and while both players made decent impacts, Longford never looked like getting back into the contest in all truth. The loss of captain and influential playmaker, Kevin O’Connor in the pre-match warm up, coupled with the departure of central defender Noel Havery after just a quarter of an hour certainly didn’t help the hosts cause on the night.

Fenn’s side were put to bed with just five-minutes of normal time remaining, as again Shelbourne broke at lightning speed with Adam Evans playing Reece McEnteer in behind Longford full-back Aidan Friel and it was only a matter of placing the ball past on the on-rushing Paul Skinner for McEnteer, who took his opportunity with great composure. 3-1 to the Dubliners!

Longford Town will now be aiming to bounce back with a morale boosting away win over Cobh Ramblers on Saturday, as well as looking to build some much needed momentum for that massive cup occasion at home to Sligo Rovers in a fortnight’s time.

After the defeat to Shelbourne, our match reporter Kieran Burke spoke to Town boss Neale Fenn: