Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Final Preview: Shelbourne -v- Longford TownSat, Nov 14 2020
Ian Morris’ Shelbourne will take on First Division Longford Town in the promotion/relegation play-off final at Richmond Park on Sunday afternoon (kick-off is at 2.30pm).
The Reds will secure safety with a win over Longford, but should they lose, they will be consigned to another stint in the First Division.
Up until a few weeks ago, Shels top-flight position appeared all but secured after their win over Sligo Rovers at Tolka Park.
However, two successive league defeats, coupled with a superb Finn Harps dash for survival, means that they are now in a play-off as they look to stay up.
“The effort this group of players has put in is nothing short of monumental,” Ian Morris told his club’s media team.
“Not only are most working full-time jobs, we needed to maintain our training loads to keep us as fit as possible.
This work ethic has allowed us to be in touching distance of 3rd or 4th place on so many occasions.”
He added: “The goal this season was to stay in the Premier Division. We have one game to achieve that success.
“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind this group will achieve our goal.”
Lorcan Fitzgerald misses out through injury while Gary Deegan is suspended after being dismissed in the home defeat to Shamrock Rovers on Monday night.
There are also doubts over Ryan Brennan, Georgie Poynton and Denzil Fernandes, but their cause will be aided by the return of Luke Byrne from suspension.
After two successive play-off wins over both UCD and Galway United, Longford Town are just one win away from a top-flight return.
Longford were relegated from the Premier Division in 2016 and have played in the First Division ever since.
In 2020, Longford struggled to get momentum swinging in their favour at times, but they managed to shake that off in recent weeks to reach the promotion/relegation play-off final.
“We’ll certainly be the underdogs on Sunday,” Town captain Dean Zambra told extratime.com this week.
“They’ll be favourites and rightly so because they’re the Premier Division team. Maybe our approach to the game is slightly different to theirs.
“They’ll be thinking that they have played at a higher level all year and they’ll be looking to show that while for us we’ll be looking to show that we can reach that level.”
He added: “I’ve been captain of the club for three years, so I’d be delighted and I’d love to achieve (promotion) for the club.
“There’s a lot of great people around the club who have kept it on the straight and narrow over the past few years.
“There’s never financial trouble with Longford, even in this year with Covid. We’ve a rock-solid club behind and a brilliant coaching staff and team as well.
“We’ve been given all the resources we need to achieve this. I’d love to do it for the fans and everyone behind the scenes at the club. I hope we can do it on Sunday.”
In terms of team news, both Sam Verdon and Thomas McLaughlin remain out for Daire Doyle’s charges.
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Longford Town have defeated Shelbourne four times since 2017 – with the Reds winning five against Longford in the meantime with three draws.
Shelbourne have lost their previous three competitive games on the spin, with one of the defeats coming against Athlone Town in the FAI Cup.
Longford Town have played in two promotion/relegation play-off finals before, winning one and losing one. Their play-off win came against Finn Harps in 2002, while their defeat came against Bray Wanderers in 2013.
Shelbourne 10/11; Draw 23/10; Longford Town 5/2.
Shelbourne 1 - 2 Longford Town
Injured: Lorcan Fitzgerald.
Doubtful: Ryan Brennan, Denzil Fernandes, Georgie Poynton.
Suspended: Gary Deegan.
Injured: Sam Verdon, Thomas McLaughlin.
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