by Robert O'Reilly
An early strike from David O’Sullivan and a double from captain Mark Salmon sealed a comfortable win for Longford Town over a miserable ten man Drogheda United at United Park.
Drogheda manager Johnny McDonnell kept the same side that drew with St Pat’s on Monday which saw Under 19s defender Sam McGowan start at right back with Tiarnan Mulvenna partnering Daryl Kavanagh up front.
There were barely two minutes played when the visitors hit the front as a fine passing move involving Gary Shaw and Pat Sullivan saw the latter release O’Sullivan through on goal and the striker deftly lifted the ball over Schlingermann for the opener.
Drogheda looked shell shocked in the opening stages and despite being outplayed, they almost drew level as Cathal Brady connected with Jason Marks’ cross but he couldn’t keep his strike on target.
Longford were dictating the play and they squandered several chances to double their advantage when first Sullivan dragged a shot wide and then Pat Flynn fired over the bar after getting on the end of a long throw-in.
The visitors created an even better opportunity to pull away on 36 minutes when O’Sullivan received the ball on the halfway line before picking out Shaw who ran unmarked between the Drogheda centre backs but he was unable to hit target with only Schlingermann to beat.
Tiarnan Mulvenna, making only his second start in the league this season, came close to bringing Drogheda level early in the second half as he dribbled past two Longford players but was eventually crowded out and his shot was blocked.
The Midlanders eventually got the second goal that their play deserved when Drogheda failed to clear the ball on the edge of their own box and O’Sullivan crossed from the right for Salmon who slotted the ball into the corner of the goal.
Drogheda were struggling for any momentum in the game and they missed a great opportunity to pull a goal back as Daryl Kavanagh capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Paul Skinner and Mark Rossiter but he failed to finish.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts as midfielder Sean Thornton was dismissed for a studs up challenge on Rossiter despite appearing to make no contact with the defender.
Longford clinched their win with eight minutes to go when substitute Kaleem Simon raced clear down the left and his cross found the onrushing Salmon and the former Drogheda midfielder fired beyond Schlingermann for his second of the game.
It’s now eight games since Drogheda last tasted victory in the league and they face a daunting trip to Shamrock Rovers next Friday.
Drogheda United Team: Micheál Schlingermann; Sam McGowan, Alan Byrne, Lloyd Buckley, Joe Gorman; Cathal Brady (Lee Duffy 70), Mick Daly, Sean Thornton, Jason Marks; Tiarnan Mulvenna (Stephen Maher 78), Daryl Kavanagh (Carl Walshe 84)
Subs not used: Dylan Connolly, Sean Brennan, Mark Hughes, Robert O’Reilly
Longford Town: Paul Skinner; Pat Sullivan, Pat Flynn, Mark Rossiter (Jamie Mulhall 84), Conor Powell; Stephen Rice, Mark Salmon, Ayman Ben Mohamed (Kaleem Simon 78), Kevin O’Connor; Gary Shaw, David O’Sullivan (Rhys Gorman 78)
Lorcan Shannon, Martin Deady, Willie Tyrell, Dan Henderson
Cathal Brady (Lee Duffy 70)
Tiarnan Mulvenna (Stephen Maher 78)
Ayman Ben Mohamed (Kaleem Simon 78)
Kevin O’Connor (Rhys Gorman 78)
David O’Sullivan 2
Mark Salmon 59, 82