Coming into the final game of the first series of Premier Division matches, Longford Town are looking to get off the foot of the League of Ireland table when they host Shamrock Rovers at City Calling Stadium on Saturday evening (kick off 7.30pm).
Tony Cousins’ men have won just one league game all season and that was the very first match of the 2016 campaign – a 2-0 away win against Wexford Youths. At home, they have lost twice (against Dundalk and St. Pat’s) and drawn twice (against Bray Wanderers and Derry City).
The 1-1 draw with Derry was the last time they played at home. Since that match in mid-April, in the league they lost 3-0 away to Sligo Rovers and drew 2-2 away to Galway United. They will be galvanized by that point secured in Galway as they came from two goals down to salvage a draw against an excellent United side. Facing a two goal deficit by the half hour mark, Town scored twice in the second through Josh O’Hanlon and a Conor Winn own goal.
The Town have conceded the most amount of goals, 21 in total, of any team in the top division and with six goals have also scored the fewest.
Last year the teams met each other on four occasions with the Hoops prevailing in all four matches. The most recent game between the two sides was a Leinster Senior Cup match last September when the Hoops won 1-0 in Longford.
Longford hosted Pat Fenlon’s side on three occasions last season in total. Besides that Leinster Senior Cup clash at the City Calling Stadium, Rovers won 2-0 in their first away match of the season and earned a 3-1 away victory back in August. In Tallaght Stadium, Tony Cousins’ men pushed Rovers hard but couldn’t quite do enough to earn a point – going down to a 3-2 defeat in May.
The Hoops head to Longford Town looking for back-to-back league victories for the first time since March. Last time out in the league, Rovers beat Bray Wanderers 2-0 to get back to winning ways after three defeats in the previous four league games.
The Hoops won 2-0 in Tallaght last week against the Seagulls thanks to players getting off the mark for the season. Killian Brennan got his first goal for Rovers since his return to the club, while Dean Clarke scored his first goal since his move from Limerick.
Clarke backed that up with another goal on Monday when the Hoops drew 1-1 with Shelbourne in the EA Sports Cup quarter-final after extratime in Tolka Park. Craig Hyland was then the hero as he saved three of Shelbourne’s spotkicks as the Hoops made it to their fifth consecutive League Cup semi-final. Clarke is in line to make his 100th league appearance on Saturday.
Speaking to extratime.ie after the win over Bray last week, Clarke admitted he was a relieved man to break his duck for the Hoops. “It was a long time coming,” said Clarke. “I saw a stat that I still hadn’t got a goal in ten games so playing up front tonight I was really itching to get one. I’m happy, I had a lot of family at the game so it was good that they were around.”
The Hoops will be hoping to end the first third of the league campaign with 21 points which would be two points off their total at the same stage last year – in a season where they finished in third place in the league.
Referee: Ben Connolly.
Longford Town’s first ever match against Shamrock Rovers took place in 1952 in the Leinster Senior Cup. Rovers won 1-0 in the game played at Longford Park.
The Hoops have beaten the Town in the last six straight games in all competitions. August 2007 was the last time Longford beat Rovers. Dave Mooney scored the goal for Longford Town that night in the 1-0 away win at Tolka Park.
Saturday is a landmark League of Ireland match for Rovers manager Pat Fenlon. This will be his 500th game of his managerial career in Ireland.
Longford Town 13/2; Draw 11/4; Shamrock Rovers 1/2.
2-0 away win to Shamrock Rovers.
Injured: Rhys Gorman.
Injured: Luke Byrne, David O’Connor.
Doubtful: Max Blanchard.
Suspended: Marty Waters.