Deniese O’Flaherty reports from Bishopsgate Stadium
A first-half brace from Sam Verdon earned Longford Town the bragging rights in the Midlands El Clasico, moving them up to third in the table; behind second place Drogheda United on goal difference.
This was Longford’s first win since the resumption of the league after dropping points away to UCD (draw) and at home to Bray Wanderers (lost).
The result was better than the previous one against Bray Wanderers and the performance was somewhat improved, but it wasn’t excellent.
The opening 30 minutes was a poor affair with a lot of scrappy football. Athlone gave Longford an early scare when a poor pass from Sam Verdon on 21 minutes found Dean George, but the player should’ve done better with his shot.
Down the other end Athlone defender Evan White very nearly gave Longford the lead when he got a touch to Shane Elworthy’s cross and nearly directed his header into his own net.
The home side broke the deadlock on 41 minutes when Lido Lotefa found Sam Verdon and he shot low to the net.
Minutes later Verdon was on the scoresheet again to double Town’s advantage when he finished Rob Manley’s pass to the net.
Longford enjoyed a lot of possession in the second half and should’ve added to the scoreline. They had half chances after the interval that they should’ve done better with.
Athlone keeper Aaron Myles saved early efforts from Lido Lotefa and Rob Manley.
Athlone had a chance in the 55th minute but Jack Reynolds fired over the bar when he really should’ve done better.
On 62 minutes Sam Verdon squandered an opportunity to grab his hat-trick when he ran out of space after getting in a good position.
Longford defender Dean Hand forced a save out of Myles in the 71st minute. The Athlone keeper pulled off a fantastic save in the 81st minute to deny Rob Manley from close range. Manley should’ve done better minutes later after a mistake by Athlone’s Scott Delaney.
Athlone tried to muster up something in terms of testing Lee Steacy as the clock ticked down.
They did have the ball in the net in the 90th minute through former Longford player Lee Duffy but it was ruled out for offside.
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Michael McDonnell, Joseph Manley, Dylan Hand, Shane Elworthy; Dean Zambra, Sam Verdon (Karl Chambers 73), Dylan Grimes (Aaron McCabe 90), Aodh Dervin (Matthew O'Brien 90); Rob Manley, Lido Lotefa (Aaron McNally 79).
Subs not used: Callum Warfield, Joe Gorman, Luke Dennison.
Booked: Shane Elworthy (74).
Sent off: None.
Athlone Town: Aaron Myles ; David Brookes , Ciaran Grogan ; Mark Birrane , Taner Dogan , Adam Lennon (Darren Meenan 70) , Ronan Manning , Evan White ; Dean George (Lee Duffy 54) , Jack Reynolds (Jordan Carr 80) .
Subs not used: Jordan Carroll, Darcy Lawless, John Morgan, Tumelo Tlou.
Booked: David Brookes (69), Ronan Manning (75).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Eoghan O'Shea
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Sam Verdon (Longford Town).