by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United remain in serious trouble at the bottom of the table after they lost 3-0 at home to Longford Town at United Park.
Gary Shaw gave the visitors an early lead before two bookings inside four minutes for Joe Gorman gave Drogheda a mountain to climb and second half strikes from Shaw and Stephen Rice sealed an all too comfortable win for Longford.
Drogheda United caretaker manager Mark Kinsella made two changes from the side that lost 2-1 away to St Patrick’s Athletic last week as the suspended pair of Robert O’Reilly and Lee Duffy were replaced by Sean Brennan and Tiarnan Mulvenna.
The game was only three minutes old when Longford hit the front as Pat Sullivan’s corner was headed over the line at the backpost by the unmarked Shaw, the 23rd time that Drogheda have conceded the opening goal in 32 league games.
United were reduced to ten men five minutes later as Gorman first bundled David O’Sullivan over before recklessly hacking down Ayman Ben Mohamed leaving referee Padraigh Sutton no choice but to dismiss the defender.
Drogheda were left enraged with the referee on 20 minutes as a long ball released Tiarnan Mulvenna on goal and he lifted the ball over Paul Skinner before colliding with the goalkeeper only for Sutton to wave play on much to the surprise of the large home crowd.
The home side’s performance was littered with defensive errors throughout with Jason Marks’ misjudging a long ball which left David O’Sullivan 1-on-1 with Micheál Schlingermann but his weak strike was easy for the PFAI Goalkeeper of the year.
Longford came close to doubling their lead early in the second half as Sean Thornton was dispossessed on the edge of his own box but Ben Mohamed’s 20 yard drive clipped the crossbar before going out of play.
A rare Drogheda attack was to follow as a long ball over the top was met by the run of Keith Treacy though with Skinner advancing, the winger fluffed his attempt with his weaker right foot as it flew over the bar.
O’Sullivan had one of the misses of the season on 67 minutes as Jamie Mulhall dribbled passed three Drogheda players on the edge of the box before picking out the striker but he shot wide from only six yards out.
With Drogheda players piling forward in hope of an equaliser, Marks was caught in possession as the last man back but Kevin O’Connor’s weak effort struck the outside of the post with O’Sullivan unmarked to his left.
The visitors got the second goal that their dominance deserved on 78 minutes as O’Connor’s through ball found Shaw who had time and space to compose himself before firing past Schlingermann into the far corner.
Longford made it three in stoppage time as another mix-up defense presented Rice with the ball on the edge of the six yard box and he fired low and hard into the corner to seal the Midlanders’ second 3-0 win at United Park this season.
The only glimmer of hope for Drogheda came courtesy of Limerick’s defeat at home to Shamrock Rovers which means they have to match the Blues’ result next Friday away at Tallaght stadium to avoid automatic relegation to the First Division.
Robert Bayly (Robert McKenna 80 )
Keith Treacy (Adam Whelan 68)
Mark Rossiter (Jamie Mulhall 34)
Ayman Ben Mohamed
Phillip Gannon (Mark Salmon 84)
David O’Sullivan (Dean Kelly 75)