Andrew Dempsey reports from Bishopsgate
Longford Town’s winless run continued on Saturday evening as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to St Patrick’s Athletic in front of 200 supporters.
The Athletic were full value for their win as goals from Robbie Benson, Matty Smith and Ronan Coughlan sealed the three points against the league's bottom side.
They did, however, have a sticky patch after Aaron Dobbs’ second-half equaliser, but they eased any fears with a good reaction to secure just their second win in seven.
The Red and Black came into the game off the back of a late 1-0 defeat at home to Shamrock Rovers – with Rory Gaffney breaking Longford hearts in injury time.
They were forced into a change from that defeat, the most notable being on the touchline as Daire Doyle and John Martin who were forced to watch from the stand as they served a ban.
The Saints came into the game with a similar issue to contend with, as their head coach Stephen O’Donnell missed out with a suspension of his own.
And they made two changes from their 2-0 defeat at home to Dundalk before the break, with Ronan Coughlan returning in place of late withdrawal Jamie Lennon.
The Athletic made the better start of the two sides, and they forced a good early save from Steacy through Paddy Barrett’s header.
West Ham United loanee Alfie Lewis went close from just outside the penalty area, but he curled his strike over the bar after some good hold up play from Coughlan.
Coughlan then forced a world-class save from the busy Steacy from a free kick in the 10th minute.
The former Shelbourne keeper was sprung into action as Coughlan’s effort looked set to nestle in the top corner, but he clawed it away from the net.
The hosts did however show signs of life after a difficult start, with Dylan Grimes at the heart of some good attacking play, although he could not pierce open the Saints defence.
Barrett then went close himself for the visitors before the half-hour mark – but he could only head wide at the back post.
But they would not be denied before the break as Robbie Benson headed home just four minutes before half time.
The former Dundalk midfielder found himself free at the front post and saw his glancing header nestle in the back of the Longford net as the hosts’ defence finally buckled.
Town started each half with a real zip and intensity – and it proved its weight in gold as Longford grabbed an equaliser through Aaron Dobbs.
Rob Manley was felled by Alfie Lewis inside the Pats penalty area after a poor clearance from Jaros, and Dobbs sent the Liverpool loanee the wrong way to level matters.
That goal did not stem the flow of the visitors attack, however, with Chris Forrester going close after dancing through the Longford defence.
The former Peterborough midfielder was denied on this occasion by a combination of Steacy and Aaron O’Driscoll.
And that pressure once again told just past the hour as Matty Smith made amends for earlier misses as he slotted home after pouncing on a Longford mistake.
Aaron Robinson’s wayward pass fell to Forrester and, though his shot was batted clear by Steacy, Smith was on hand to score.
The Saints had opportunities to make the game safe through Forrester, Barrett and Smith, but none of the Saints’ three could make the most of some good openings.
The game was then made safe with just under ten minutes to play as Coughlan headed home from a Darragh Burns cross.
The result sees the Saints move to within three points of the top after Sligo Rovers’ home defeat to Drogheda, while Longford remain rooted to the foot of the table on seven points.
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Patrick Kirk, Michael McDonnell, Aaron McNally, Aaron O'Driscoll; Aodh Dervin, Dylan Grimes (Callum Thompson 46), Aaron Robinson (Dean Byrne 69), Dean Zambra (c); Aaron Dobbs (Conor Davis 76), Rob Manley (Aaron McCabe 84).
Subs not used: Karl Chambers, Michael Kelly, Ben Lynch, Joseph Manley, Matthew O'Brien.
Booked: Aaron O'Driscoll (10), Aaron Robinson (25), Dylan Grimes (31), Aodh Dervin (43).
St. Patrick's Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; John Mountney, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham (c), Paddy Barrett; Alfie Lewis, Billy King (Darragh Burns 64), Chris Forrester (Ben McCormack 90), Robbie Benson; Matty Smith (Jason McClelland 90), Rónán Coughlan.
Subs not used: Daniel Norris, Barry Murphy, Thomas Lonergan, Josh Keeley, Kian Corbally.
Booked: Ian Bermingham (37) ,Alfie Lewis (48) Paddy Barrett (50).
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Attendance: 200 (official).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Chris Forrester (St Patrick’s Athletic).