Thursday 18 January 2018

O'Sullivan on mark to keep Longford in promotion mix

Bray Wanderers 2 Longford Town 2

Garry Doyle

For the second time in four days, David O'Sullivan proved the predictable saviour for Longford Town as they overcame another two-goal deficit to stay on course for promotion.

For the second time in four days, David O'Sullivan proved the predictable saviour for Longford Town as they overcame another two-goal deficit to stay on course for promotion.

They still have work to do, though. While O'Sullivan's goal, which added to the two he got against Mervue last Friday, re-emphasised the never-say-die spirit within Tony Cousins' side, the truth is they should have been buried last night long before the revival began.

Trailing 2-0 after half an hour – by virtue of the 206th and 207th goals of Jason Byrne's career – they went on to survive a disallowed Byrne goal, a header from the striker which bounced off the crossbar and a cross-cum-shot from Kieran Marty Waters which also struck the woodwork.

Yet, they came back. And they did so because Cousins has instilled a belief in this young team which is unbreakable.

Now they seem destined to go all the way. That view wasn't shared by many after 32 minutes of last night's game, though. By then, it was Bray who were carving chances open with remarkable ease.

ENFORCED

Certainly the enforced absence of Town's central defender, Des Hope, had a major impact on the pattern of this game, his seventh minute withdrawal through injury resulting in the Town defence becoming disorganised.

And Byrne profited. The one-time Ireland international already had a goal disallowed in the second minute before he pounced for his first goal in the eighth minute, heading in from close range after Kevin O'Connor's header had bounced back off the crossbar.

His second was even better, though. Set free by Gary Dempsey, the game's best player, Byrne steadied his stride before lobbing Chris Bennion from 25 yards.

There and then the tie seemed over. And had Bennion not been alert enough to stop Issy Akinade's shot then it would have been finished.

But Longford survived. And then gradually they got back into this game – their energy allowing them to outwork Bray in the middle of the park and coupled with the home side's wasteful finishing – a chance of redemption presented itself.

And Dean Ebbe grabbed it, scoring a fine goal on 61 minutes to change the tone of the game. From here on in, Longford looked capable of getting in behind Bray's high defensive line.

O'Sullivan did in the 83rd minute, reacting quickest to Ryan Connolly's free-kick to fire home.

Bray Wanderers – Quigley; Daire Doyle, Webster, Shane O'Connor, Zambra (Earley 38); Maher; Dempsey, Kevin O'Connor; Akinade, Waters; Byrne.

Longford Town – Bennion; Haverty, Deans, Hope (Doyle 7), Quinn; Ebbe, Purdy (O'Brien 79), Gorman, Connolly; Shaw (O'Hanlon 32), O'Sullivan.

Ref – G Kelly (Cork).

Irish Independent

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