Town were hit by injuries and illness for this game with six first team regulars missing. They lacked the cutting edge and guile going forward with Jacques Morley and Cathal Brady in particular, big losses.
Chances were at a premium in a drab and dour first half. It was probably the worst 45 minutes of football witnessed in Flancare Park this season. Harps had the first chance on goal in the seventh minute. Mark Forker’s free from the left met the head of Keith Cowen but his effort just went over. Town broke down the other end and after receiving a pass from Lee Roche, Don Cowan bore down on goals but he really should’ve done better with his shot.
Neither side could take a grip on proceedings; there was plenty of ball but no end product. Harps looked good on the counter and tried to stretch the Town’s defence on a few occasions but they were able to contain them. They had a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock in the 34th minute. Forker’s cross from the right fell nicely to Tommy Bonner who was in a good position but he couldn’t get his effort on target.
The blistering pace of Cowan was causing problems for the Harps defence. In the 44th minute he broke into the box and drilled a lot low across the face of the goal, unfortunately there was no one there to turn it in and Harps were able to clear.
Harps were reduced to 10 men eleven minutes after the restart. The linesman on the opposite side of the ground alerted referee John McLoughlin to something. After their discussion McLoughlin flashed a red card at Harps’ Kevin McHugh for dissent.
Despite being down a man the visitors pushed forward and tried to find a way past Town keeper Alvin Rouse. In the 64th minute they broke down the field. Mark Brolly turned Gary Cronin and laid the ball off to Gareth Harkin but his shot was excellently blocked by the body of Town defender Paddy Collins, who literally threw himself at the ball.
The game faded as a contest with no clear-cut chances created by either side. Harps will be the happier of the teams after this result, having to play the majority of the second half with 10 men. For the Town it’s another game they don’t really want with the squad already stretched.
Longford Town: Alvin Rouse; Chris Deans, Des Hope, Paddy Collins, Gary Cronin; Lee Roche, Craig Walsh, Mark Salmon, Aidan Roche (Daniel O’Reilly 80); Don Cowan, Austin Skelly.
Subs not used: Niall O’Reilly, Peter Sczcerbowski, Darren Carberry.
Bookings: Chris Deans (12).
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Paddy McLaughlin, Keith Cowen, Packie Mailey, Ciaran Coll; Mark Forker, Aaron McElwee, Tommy Bonner, Marc Brolly (Garbhan Friel 91), Gareth Harkin; Kevin McHugh.
Subs not used: Lee McFadden, Christy Connaghan, James Doherty, Blaine Curtis.
Bookings: Keith Cowen (29), Kevin McHugh (31).
Sending off: Kevin McHugh (56).
Referee: John McLoughlin (Athlone).
Attendance: 300 (estimate).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary Cronin (Longford Town).