by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United began their defence of the EA Sports Cup in spectacular fashion as they thumped Longford Town 6-0 at Hunky Dorys Park.
Dean Gaynor opened the scoring before a brace from Jason Marks put the Drogs 3-0 up at half time and second half goals from Peter Hynes, Alan McNally and Graham Rusk sealed a satisfying night for the home side.
Alan Byrne was the only survivor from Friday’s defeat to Derry as Mick Cooke gave several fringe players the opportunity to impress and it wasn’t long before United created the breakthrough.
A long ball down the wing was controlled on the byline by Rusk who passed back to Marks and his floated cross to the back post was met by Gaynor who headed past the helpless Paul Hunt to score his first senior goal.
Further pressure from the home side was rewarded on 26’ as a free flowing move down the right saw Rusk release right back Michael Daly and his drilled delivery was finished by Marks.
United were out of sight on the half hour mark as a terrific diagonal ball out of defence from Alan McNally was controlled by Gaynor and he repaid the favour to Marks as he volleyed into the roof of the net.
Longford struggled to get any foothold in the game and Drogheda should have gone into the break four goals to good as Hynes laid the ball into the path of Paul O’Conor but his swivel and volley sailed high over the bar.
The Boynesiders almost had a huge slice of luck at the start of the second half as a 30 yard effort from Hynes deflected off Brian McCarthy only for Hunt to produce a magnificent save.
Marks was given the opportunity to complete his hat trick as a swift counter attack involving Eric Foley, Rusk and Hynes resulted in Keith Quinn fouling Gaynor inside the box however Marks’ penalty was parried away by Hunt.
Referee Neil Doyle awarded Drogheda a second penalty on the hour mark as Peter Hynes was tripped by Willo McDonagh. United’s number nine dusted himself down to send Hunt the wrong way and end any hope of a Longford comeback.
De Town’s only real chance on the night came from Noel Haverty as he headed wide from a Daniel Purdy free kick as the First Division leaders struggled to deal with United’s energy and creativity.
United made it five as a corner kick from substitute David Cassidy was headed goalwards by Daly but his effort was blocked on the line and Alan McNally bundled the ball into the net.
Drogheda were cruising at this stage and the final goal of the night came as Eric Foley intercepted the ball in the box and with the goal at his mercy, he unselfishly squared for Graham Rusk to complete the rout.
Indeed, it was Foley who nearly scored the goal of the game as he sent a 35 yard effort crashing off the Longford crossbar in what would have been the icing on the cake for Mick Cooke’s side.
Drogheda will be looking to maintain their cup momentum as they return to League action against Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday.
Paul O’Conor (David Cassidy 65)
Dean Gaynor (Cathal Brady 67)
Jason Marks (Gavin Brennan 76)
Alan Byrne (Captain)
Chris Deans (Captain)
Des Hope (Willo McDonagh 46)
Keith Gillespie (Daniel Purdy 46)
Brian McCarthy (William Tyrell 71)
Jason Marks (2)