Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
Promotion hopefuls UCD and Longford Town played out a scoreless draw on Friday evening as neither side could find the elusive winner.
The Students will have been pleased with their performance, although they will be ruing their lack of a cutting edge in front of goal.
Longford however, had the better chances, although they, like UCD could not convert when it mattered most.
Both sides went into the 2020 First Division campaign harbouring hopes of promotion back to the top-flight, but it was Longford who had the better start to the year.
Daire Doyle’s charges won their opening two games of the season, picking up wins over Shamrock Rovers II and Drogheda United.
The Students on the other hand endured a mixed start to the season, winning once, losing once and drawing once.
Their heavy 5-1 defeat away to Drogheda in their most recent league outing highlighted the lack of experience in Andy Myler’s side.
While it was 147 days since their last league outing, Myler made four changes from his side’s heavy defeat away to the Boynesiders.
Longford on the other hand, a side who had not played a competitive game in 154 days, made three changes from their most recent league game, which was also against Tim Clancy’s Drogs as Lido Lotefa made his Red and Black debut.
And it was the Students who started the game better at the UCD Bowl – with Myler’s young guns troubling Doyle’s highly-fancied Longford early on.
And despite impressing early on, the Students conceded the first real chance of the game, but former Cabinteely Rob Manley opted not to shoot when it appeared easier to do so.
Moments later, Colm Whelan should have given UCD a richly deserved lead, but he fired over the bar on the stretch after a header from Mark Dignam found the former Waterford under-19 star.
UCD continued to impress as the half wore on, with Jack Keaney the next to go close with his free-kick coming off the back stanchion of Lee Steacy’s goal.
While the Midlanders struggled to deal with the UCD press and technical play, they really should have taken the lead before the break via Manley and Sam Verdon.
James English’ cross found Manley who could only direct his low effort at the feet of Lorcan Healy – before the fell to the path of Verdon.
However, Verdon could not convert as UCD almost found themselves behind despite enjoying most of the play in a dominant first-half.
Following a dismal opening period, it was Longford who began the second period on the front foot, but it was UCD who had the first chance of the half, but Liam Kerrigan could only shoot straight at Steacy.
Substitute Dylan Grimes impressed following his introduction, and it was his free-kick that found the head of Manley, but he could only direct his effort wide of goal.
UCD would regain control of the game with Kerrigan once again being thwarted by Steacy in the Longford goal after a corkscrew pass from Jack Keaney found his ex-Sligo teammate.
Longford were next to go close, but Manley’s shot was well saved by Healy in the Students goal after English’s long punt upfield found his attacking teammate.
However, the game would soon peter out as neither side could find a late breakthrough - as Longford’s long wait for a competitive win in Dublin goes on.
UCD: Lorcan Healy ; Evan Osam , Michael Gallagher , Evan Farrell , Josh Collins ; Liam Kerrigan , Jack Keaney , Dara Keane (Yoyo Mahdy, 66), Paul Doyle , Mark Dignam ; Colm Whelan .
Subs not used: Eoghan O'Sullivan, Harry McEvoy, Danu Kinsella Bishop, Eoin Farrell, Luke Boore, Evan Weir.
Booked: Paul Doyle (67).
Sent off: None.
Longford Town: Lee Steacy ; Shane Elworthy , Dylan Hand , Michael McDonnell , Aaron McNally ; Aodh Dervin , Dean Zambra ; James English (Niall Barnes, 78), Lido Lotefa (Dylan Grimes, h/t), Rob Manley (Callum Warfield, 81), Sam Verdon .
Subs not used: Karl Chambers, Luke Dennison, Joseph Manley, Matthew O'Brien.
Booked: Dean Zambra (4), Aodh Dervin (23).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Alan Patchell
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Dara Keane (UCD).