Longford Town slipped off the top of the First Division table on Friday night, despite a stunning free kick from Daniel Purdy that rescued a point against Wexford Youths at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night.
With both teams leaving the pitch in Ferrycarrig with a point a piece neither manager will have been happy. Wexford started much the brighter when, in the first minute, Craig Hyland in the Longford goal rushed outside his box and took down Joey Mulcahy. The referee deemed it a yellow card offence and from the resulting free kick Aiden Keenan headed towards goal with Hyland pulling off a great save.
Longford had their first chance after five minutes with a cross into the box which was headed harmlessly wide by Tony Griffiths. Eleven minutes in and Griffiths again caught sight of the Wexford goal but his shot was comfortably saved by Graham Doyle.
Longford defender Noel Haverty was forced off on 19 minutes after an earlier knock which left him visibly ill on the pitch and he was replaced by Daniel Purdy who would go on to have a big impact on the game for Longford.
Wexford then started to dominate possession and had a chance headed over by Keenan following a cross from Shaun Corcoran. Moments later Craig Wall made a run from midfield into the Longford box only to be taken down cynically by Mark Salmon. Again referee John Grimes produced a yellow, despite a lack of covering defenders. Danny Furlong, despite having missed a penalty last week against Waterford, stepped up and slotted home the spot kick, sending Hyland the wrong way.
Having gone behind Longford started to come more into the game but a quick break by Wexford saw Joe Mulcahy send Furlong through on goal with Chris Deans being called on to make a perfectly timed tackle inside the box. Longford, who were being reduced to half chances and long range efforts, had a shot from Alan Kirby which went well wide.
Just before the break Mulchay had a great chance to score from a Keenan cross but Hyland, who had been much the more tested of the two keepers, pulled off a magnificent save. At the other end Griffiths headed a chance straight at Doyle and a Keith Gillespie free was cleared by the Wexford defence.
At half time Wexford left the pitch the happier and Longford reacted by bringing on Karl Birmingham for Salmon. And the visitors started the brighter in the second half, creating a half chance for a busy Griffiths on the right. Longford then got their equaliser, winning a free kick 35 yards out which Daniel Purdy whipped up over the wall and into the top corner of the net. It was a free kick worthy of winning any game.
Shortly after that the game was turned on its head when Keenan picked up his second yellow card for a tackle on Gillespie. With Wexford down to ten men Longford started to enjoy a large amount of possession. Despite this they failed to create too many clear-cut chances and with Wexford looking dangerous on the counter attack the game was still there for either side to win.
The sides traded chances with Colm James shooting over the Wexford bar from long range and Furlong shooting straight at Hyland in the visitor’s goal. And with Longford holding on to the ball to greater effect, both Brian Nolan and Craig Wall picked up yellow cards in their efforts to get it back for Wexford. Gillespie then showed his class with a beautifully weighted passed to Purdy inside the Wexford box but he was flagged offside.
In the 73rd minute the game took an odd turn with a substitution we are not used to seeing, as referee John Grimes had to leave the field injured, fourth official Phil Caschera entering the game for the remaining minutes.
With Longford pushing hard for the winner, a cross from Purdy was headed into the ground by Gray Shaw and was eventually cleared by James Scallan. As Longford kept up the pressure Wexford started to drop deeper and deeper, but for all their possession Longford struggled to create any clear chances.
It ended 1-1 and though neither manager will be content with the result, Wexford’s Shane Keegan will perhaps be the happier of the two. Tony Cousins will surely see this as two points dropped, points that may yet prove crucial in the title race. With both Limerick and Waterford picking up wins, Limerick have knocked Longford off top spot, albeit on goal difference, and Waterford close to gap to just three points.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Jamie Carr, Shaun Corcoran, James Scallon, Shane Clarke; Aiden Keenan, Eric Molloy, Brian Nolan (Shane Nolan 86), Craig Wall; Danny Furlong, Joe Mulcahy (Dean Broaders 86).
Subs not used: Gary Delaney, James Darmody, Glen Howe, Thomas Croke, John Yeats.
Bookings: Keenan, Wall (70), Nolan (71).
Sent Off: Keenan (56).
Longford Town: Craig Hyland; Colm James. Noel Haverty (Daniel Purdy 19), Chris Deans, Michael Lee; Thomas Crawley, Alan Kirby, Keith Gillespie, Mark Salmon (Karl Bermingham 46); Tony Griffiths (Jamie Duffy 68), Gary Shaw.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Gary Cronin, Niall O’Reilly, Craig Walsh.
Bookings: Hyland (2), Salmon (23), Kirby (50), James (61).
Referee: John Grimes.
Extratime man of the match: Joey Mulcahy who looked lively all night and caused the Longford several headaches.
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