by David Goulden at City Calling Stadium
Longford Town 1-1 Sligo Rovers
Sligo Rovers and Longford Town played out a drab 1-1 draw at City Calling Stadium in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. Two late first half goals from either side were the highlight of a game which lacked much quality throughout.
Town took the lead through what will be one of the goals of the season from Kevin O'Connor just before half-time, but Rovers equalised soon after from a well hit David Cawley goal just moments later.
Sligo were going in search of just their second league win of the season following last week's win over Galway while Longford were looking to extend the gap between the two sides to six points.
Morten Nielsen's shot from the edge of the area stung the gloves of Longford goalkeeper Paul Skinner on nine minutes during an extremely scrappy opening half. Nielsen, who was lively from the start, struck his fifteenth minute free over Skinner's crossbar after O'Connor handballed in front of his own area.
Longford enjoyed a small dominative spell mid-way through the half but the closest they came to scoring was an effort from Ayman Ben Mohamad which was headed away by the well placed Dinny Corcoran on 18 minutes.
Pat Flynn's scuffed effort took a deflection off Jake Dykes on the half hour mark which made it comfortable for Sligo goalkeeper Richard Brush just past the half hour mark.
The game suddenly lit up on 40 minutes as the City Calling Stadium crowd were treated to two superb goals. Longford grabbed the lead courtesy of a stunning strike from Kevin O'Connor five minutes from the break. Stephen Rice teed up O'Connor with a quick free-kick and from 30 yards, the former Bray midfielder sending a wonderfully whipped strike into the top corner of Brush's net to give Tony Cousins' side the lead.
But whatever O'Connor could do, Cawley could match. Rovers levelled the game on the stroke of half-time following patient play from Alan Keane and Kevin Devaney. Keane did well to control an over cooked cross from Cretaro before supplying Devaney. And instead of attempting a cross into the area, the young winger opted to play the ball calmly back to Cawley in front of the area whose vicious goal-ward strike flew beyond the grasp of Skinner for his first goal of the season.
What a goal!!!!!! Super Dave Cawley. Come on!!!!!
— Steven Beattie (@steven5beattie) April 17, 2015
The frustrating nature of the game continued into the second half. Nielsen went for goal ten minutes into the second half with the unmarked Cretaro better placed to take on the chance. Mohamed touched the ball past Brush on the hour mark after he latched on to a through ball from Gary Shaw but Sligo full back Gary Boylan was alert to sweep the ball away from danger as the ball trickled towards goal.
Shaw headed wide from a Pat Sullivan cross on 62 as he sneaked between Boylan and Stephen Folan.
Cousins withdrew the impressive Mohamad with 18 minutes remaining, much to the dissatisfaction of the Town faithful. Their disappointment was almost compounded a minute later but for a wonderful save from Skinner. Nielsen's initial drive was deflected away by Sullivan before the ball bounced at the feet of substitute Danny Ledwith who forced a superb save from Skinner at full stretch. The Town net minder doing well to tip the ball over his crossbar.
Cretaro was afforded a golden opportunity to put the away side into the lead with a quarter of an hour left. Ledwith picked out the Sligo winger from wide on the left but despite having the time and space, Cretaro was unable to guide his nodded effort goalwards.
Longford's Shaw was guilty of turning up a similar chance on 82. The striker sending wide, his header at the front post from a Lorcan Shannon cross from the left with Brush left unworried.
Longford Town: Paul Skinner; Pat Flynn, William Tyrell, Pat Sullivan, Conor Powell; Ayman Ben Mohamed (for Lorcan Shannon 72), Kevin O'Connor, Stephen Rice, Mark Salmon, Gary Shaw; David O'Sullivan (for Kalem Simon 81).
Subs not used: Jamie Mulhall, Martin Deady, Rhys Gorman, Dan Henderson, Mark Rossiter.
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Gary Boylan, Alan Keane, Stephen Folan, Jake Dykes; Raffaele Cretaro, John Russell, David Cawley, Kevin Devaney (for Sander Puri 85); Dinny Corcoran (for Danny Ledwith,67), Morten Nielsen.
Subs not used: Ryan Coulter, Keith Ward, Gary Armstrong, Eoin Wearen, Ciaran Kelly.
Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin)