LONGFORD TOWN 1 FINN HARPS 0
BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT THE CITY CALLING STADIUM
DAVID O’Sullivan’s disputed first-half penalty handed Longford Town a controversial win over Finn Harps at the City Calling Stadium.
Harps fell to their second defeat of the campaign when O’Sullivan netted following a decision that had Ollie Horgan fuming on the sideline.
Horgan raged after Packie Mailey was deemed to have handled a Noel Haverty cross in the 25th minute.
The visitors, still without the injured Kevin McHugh and Sean McCarron, lacked in creativity, bar their endeavours from set pieces and it was another frustrating night at the office.
It was a night when Harps pressed hard in a valiant attempt to pull something from the embers, but they were burnt by a decisive piece of officiating in the first half.
The goal came following a clever passage of play down Longford’s right channel, where Kevin O’Connor put Haverty in the clear with a clever back heel.
Haverty’s cross came off Mailey and, to the bemusement of the small attendance, referee Kevin O’Regan awarded a penalty for a handball.
It was a call that had Horgan livid and, while the ball may have hit Mailey’s hand, the Harps player had his arm firmly by his side and certainly didn’t appear to have made an attempt to make hand-to-ball contact.
O’Sullivan’s spot kick was low to Conor Winn’s left-hand side and while it lacked conviction it managed to creep under the dive of the Harps netminder, who will reflect that he could have made the save.
Rhys Gorman had fired at early warning shot at Harps, his pot-shot from the edge of the ‘D’ flashing narrowly.
Section of the Longford support had become restless with manager Tony Cousins following an indifferent start to the season, scoring just three goals in their previous five outings.
Gorman was one of four players elevated to the starting line-up, with William Tyrell, Chris Deans and Peter Hynes also promoted.
Another of the new faces, Tyrell, headed just over from a corner while right-back Haverty tried his luck with an ambitious effort from distance that Winn was thankful to watch drift over.
Harps had their moments, but chances of a clear-cut variety were rare to non-existent for the visitors.
Ciaran Coll’s cleanly struck shot from 20 yards was deflected wide, while Michael Funston drove powerfully into Chris Bennion’s arms from the resulting corner.
Harps gave a full debut to Caoimhin Bonner, who deputised in the absence of the suspended Keith Cowan.
They came into it more in the second half, with Michael Funston pulling the strings to good effect, but Bonner sliced over and Pat McCann drilled a half-volley wide before Keating’s flicked header dropped to the wrong side of the target.
Spurred on by the animated figure of Horgan, who kicked and headed every ball with his side, Harps threw the kitchen sink and accompanying utensils at Longford, but it was a vexed Horgan who made his way to congratulate Cousins at the end of a night that will have eased the growing pressure on Longford’s manager.
LONGFORD TOWN: Chris Bennion; Noel Haverty, Chris Deans, Pat Sullivan, William Tyrell; Kevin O’Connor, Stephen Rice, Rhys Gorman, Sean Russell; David O’Sullivan, Peter Hynes. Subs: Lorcan Shannon for Russell (58 mins), Gary Shaw for Hynes (74 mins).
FINN HARPS: Conor Winn; Damien McNulty, Packie Mailey, Caoimhin Bonner; James Doherty, Michael Funston, Pat McCann, Tommy Bonnar, Ciaran Coll; Jonny Bonner; Ruairi Keating. Subs: Paul McVeigh for Bonner (60 mins), Carel Tiofack for Bonnar (78 mins)
REFEREE: Kevin O’Regan (Kerry).