THE SILENCE spoke volumes at Finn Park as Finn Harps fell to a seventh League defeat in a row and Longford won for the first time since March.
Finn Harps 0 Longford Town 1
Kevin O’Connor’s 17th minute goal was the difference here as Longford took a first League win since the season’s opening night, when they defeated Wexford Youths 2-0.
Ruairi Keating (above) saw an 81st minute penalty saved by Longford ‘keeper Ryan Coulter and Harps are now, including the 21 minutes of the abandoned fixture with Sligo Rovers, 672 minutes without a goal.
They were presented with a golden chance of an equaliser here when, after Dave Scully was brought down just inside the box, Keating saw a tame spot kick saved by Coulter.
Keating, Dave Scully and Kevin McHugh were all sent on as Harps sought a way back into it, having fallen behind to O’Connor’s fine strike.
Packie Mailey’s headed clearance bounced inviting in front of O’Connor who, with a first time effort, lobbed over the off-his-line Brush to give the visitors a lead that silenced the old ground.
The moment the ball left O’Connor’s blow felt like a noose being tightened. It was a wonderful goal by the Longford midfielder but it meant that a Harps side without a goal in over two months now needed two goals for a first win since July 8.
They had started the night with a glorious chance. From Adam Hanlon’s inswinging freem in the game’s opening minute, Thomas McMonagle wriggled free, but shot tamely at Coulter from close range.
Horgan rang the changes – as has become the custom for the Harps manager throughout his tenure – with four switches to the side from that which lost 2-0 to Dundalk at Oriel Park on Monday night.
Despite a fine showing against the champions, Ciaran Gallagher was deposed from the starting XI, with Richard Brush coming in to replace the Raphoe man,
There were starts, too, for Sean Houston, Adam Hanlon and Ethan Boyle, who hadn’t appeared because of injury, work and suspension on Monday.
Harps, 5-4-1 without the ball and 3-4-2 with it, were quite fortunate not to be two down at the break.
Goalkeeper Brush denied Don Cowan and Peter McGlynn as Longford probed, while the Harps netminder also saved a header from Philip Gannon.
Longford had a glorious chance in the final minute of the opening half, but Eddie Dsane, after being slipped in around the back of the Harps rearguard, rolled wide of the far post.
Even if they were all-too infrequent for the liking of the natives, Harps did have chances and Ciaran Coll, after Curran’s cross-field ball turned the play, was thwarted by a strong save by Coulter on the half-hour.
Hanlon’s dangerous ball across the goalmouth begged for a converting touch on 40 minutes, but agonisingly drifted off cue and the half ended with Ethan Boyle going to ground and Harps seeing strong penalty claims waved away by Ray Matthews, the referee.
Harps sent on Scully and Keating early in the second half in a bid to rescue the game, but they had to endure a real scare 18 minutes from the end when, after Don Cowan made the break, the ball clipped off Dsane and wide.
Keating smashed off the crossbar after getting free inside the box, but it was that moment, in the 81st minute, when he saw Coulter dive left to save from the penalty that will haunt the Mayo native and those who were by then beginning to drift off into the night.
Those who remained let their displeasure be known. Wexford’s draw at home to Derry City means that Harps have only four points to spare to the play-off spot.
Finn Harps: Richard Brush; Keith Cowan, Packie Mailey (Dave Scully 52), Thomas McMonagle; Ciaran Coll; Josh Mailey, Ethan Boyle (Kevin McHugh 82), Adam Hanlon, Sean Houston, Gareth Harkin, Ciaran Coll; Ryan Curran (Ruairi Keating 65).
Longford Town: Ryan Coulter; Jamie Mulhall, Pat Flynn, Yann Mvita, Conor Powell; Don Cowan (Rhys Gorman 90), Philip Gannon, Kevin O’Connor, Kealan Dillon, Peter McGlynn (David O’Sullivan 78); Eddie Dsane.
Referee: Ray Matthews (Mullingar).Tags: