LONGFORD TOWN 0 – 2 BOHEMIANS
Bohemians are through to the EA Sports Cup semi-final – but the Gypsies made very hard work of First Division Longford Town on a crisp Monday might in the Midlands. A pre-game deluge threatened to postpone this Quarter Final tie, but after a 45 minute delay, the City Calling pitch was declared playable and things got under way at 8.30. Unfortunately for the visiting supporters, they weren’t treated to a deluge of quality as Bohs scraped past 9-man Longford Town with considerable difficulty. Despite playing with a 1-man advantage for 70 minutes and a 2-man advantage for 30 minutes, Owen Heary’s men only made sure of the victory with three minutes to spare, writes KEVIN FAGAN.
The Bohs manager started with a relatively strong team – the same back five from Friday night’s draw with Shamrock Rovers were retained, and there was a welcome return for Dinny Corcoran following his 3 match suspension. Jake Hyland, who has been the competition’s star man so far, operated in the hole behind Corcoran, but was unable to continue his fine form from previous rounds. Longford fielded some familiar faces, with former Shamrock Rovers ‘heroes’ Stephen Rice, Pat Flynn, and Pat Sullivan in their side. With surface water still lingering on some parts of the pitch, controlling the game was difficult – but the Bohs midfield of Roberto Lopes and Stephen Traynor dominated possession without creating much until the 20th minute.
If Tony Cousins wasn’t already gray, his hair could easily have turned anyway following the sheer madness of his side’s two red cards. Just 19 minutes had passed when a lovely clipped ball from Anto Murphy sent Dinny Corcoran through. The Donabate man controlled well before rounding Chris Bennion. He applied the finish, but defender Noel Haverty decided to blatantly slap the ball away with his hand. The referee had no choice but to award the penalty and flash a red card. The Bohs fans’ chant of ‘super keeper’ followed Haverty down the tunnel, while his manager scolded him for making such a rash decision. However, he would have been soothed to hear the cheers of the home fans as Bennion saved Corcoran’s poorly struck penalty with his legs.
Bohs’ best outlet was down the left flank where Kevin Devaney was giving Pat Sullivan a torrid time. It’s a far cry from White Hart Lane to the City Calling Stadium, but Sullivan simply couldn’t handle Devaney’s pace. Backed up by the increasingly-comfortable at left back Derek Pender, one felt this would be the key to unlocking a stubborn Longford. Indeed, with just 2 minutes to the break, Devaney combined with Pender, allowing the latter to fire a dipping, in-swinging cross toward the 6-yard box. Jake Hyland got the faintest of touches first, but Dinny Corcoran got the final – meaningful touch with a flicked header into the far corner.
The complete gray-ing of Tony Cousins’ hair came on the hour mark. Kevin O’Connor had been booked for a silly lunge in the first half, but his overly-aggressive body check on Devaney was as needless as it was ridiculous. A second yellow was flashed, and O”Connor joined Haverty back in the dressing room. With 30 minutes remaining, the stage was set for Bohs to cruise to victory. Unfortunately, this did not materialise. Longford amazingly grew into the game once their second man was dismissed, forced a corner, and could easily have equalized but Etanda Nkolo dragged his effort just wide following a goal mouth scramble.
Despite the two-man advantage, chances didn’t really arrive for Bohs until Steven Beattie was introduced with 10 minutes remaining. He instantly whipped in an inch-perfect cross for Dinny, who volleyed disappointingly wide from 8 yards. Paddy Kavanagh was also introduced, but lost the ball no fewer than 6 occasions in his brief cameo. The small but vocal away support were audibly unimpressed with being only one goal to the good against 9 First Division men, but they were appeased somewhat with the clinching goal on 87 minutes. Again it was Pender the supplier as his deep free kick was floated all the way into the box where Dano Byrne rose highest to loop a header to the far corner. It was a frustrating night in truth – but a Cup win is a Cup win, and Bohs can now sit back and see who’ll join them in the semi final draw. More pressing for Owen Heary is a league game with current leaders Dundalk on Friday in Dalymount Park.
Longford Town: Chris Bennion, Pat Sullivan, Noel Haverty, Pat Flynn, Willie Tyrell (Don Cowan, 72), Sean Russell, Stephen Rice, Kevin O’Connor, David O’Sullivan (Glen O’Connor, 64), Etanda Nkololo, Peter Hynes (Gary Shaw, 60).
Bohemians: Dean Delany, Anto Murphy, Aidan Price, Daniel Byrne, Derek Pender, Keith Buckley, Roberto Lopes, Stephen Traynor (Steven Beattie, 78), Kevin Devaney, Jake Hyland (Paddy Kavanagh, 70), Dinny Corcoran.
Bohemianfc.com Man of the Match: Derek Pender