Jake Keegan’s bullet header on the hour-mark at the City Calling Stadium moved Galway United to within a point of their hosts, Longford Town. The win now moves the Tribesmen up to 7th position in the table.
The New Yorker found space between Town defenders Rhys Gorman and Pat Sullivan, before guiding the ball perfectly into the corner with a cushioned header. Initially, Gary Shanahan showed Conor Powell a clean pair of heels after he knocked the ball past the former Bohemians full back and Shanahan then got his head up and then picking out Keegan with a pinpoint cross.
The away side didn’t have it all their own way, though, and Tony Cousins’ side started brightly. Pat Sullivan’s corner kick caused havoc in United’s box. In the chaos that ensued, Longford striker Gary Shaw looped a header at goal that looked destined for the back of the net, but Marc Ludden anticipated the danger and headed off the line.
Former Longford Town midfielder Ryan Connolly then created a gilt-edged opportunity for the visitors when he raided down the left flank, before crossing to Gary Shanahan, but his header lacked power and direction.
Longford Town substitute David O’Sullivan has a knack of scoring goals against Galway United and within two minutes of his introduction, he guided Mark Salmon’s cross at goal, but Sam Oji made a crucial interception to keep the sides scoreless.
Moments later, Conor Winn had to be alert to thwart O’Sullivan again, when he pushed his shot from close range around the post.
Jake Keegan operated as a lone striker for United and he almost broke the deadlock when he latched onto a defence-splitting ball from David O’Leary, but off-balance, he pulled his shot wide.
Ben Mohamed was Longford’s match-winner last week at the Carlisle Grounds and he came inches away from opening the scoring. The ball broke to Mohamed at the edge of the box and his first-time volley almost found the bottom corner.
Longford defender Rhys Gorman made a foray forward to receive a long-throw from Pat Sullivan, but he couldn’t get enough purchase on his flick-on and Winn was commanding, claiming the loose ball.
Both sides were trading blows, Keegan was the ever-willing worker for Galway United up-front. Alex Byrne threaded a beautiful through ball for Keegan to run onto, but again, Skinner wasn’t tested.
Marc Ludden made one very important goal-line clearance for United in the first half, and seven minutes into the second half, he was called upon once again. Kaleem Simon’s cross asked questions of United’s back four, Longford Town captain Mark Salmon shot powerfully at goal, but Ludden launched himself at the ball bravely, blocking down the danger.
The defining moment of the game came in the 61st minute. Gary Shanahan knocked the ball past Conor Powell before curling a cross into the Longford Town box, where Jake Keegan came alive, having picked up a position between Pat Sullivan and Rhys Gorman, before finding the corner of the net with a cushioned header that left Skinner stranded.
United should have grabbed an insurance goal moments later. Keegan, this time turning provider, set up David O’Leary, who zipped a drive at goal that was going to beat Skinner, who was out of position, but Rhys Gorman cleared the ball off the line.
In the 77th minute, Longford Town’s full backs combined. Conor Powell ventured forward from left back before drilling the ball across goal, Pat Sullivan slid towards goal to get the crucial touch but he couldn’t reach the ball and United were let off the hook.
Jake Keegan was then surprised to find himself the recipient of a poorly taken quick free-kick by Mark Rossiter, who had passed straight to the American with a miss-kick, but the subsequent lobbed effort from Keegan didn’t have the required weight to trouble Paul Skinner.
Longford tried in vain to grab an equaliser. In the 86th minute, the hosts had a weak penalty appeal waved away by referee Sean Grant and Galway United recorded a valuable away win in the midlands.
Next up for the Tribesmen is a home league game against Shamrock Rovers on Friday, June 26th. Kick-off: 7.45pm.
PHOTOS BY PITCHSIDE PHOTO – www.pitchsidephoto.com
Longford Town (4-4-1-1): Skinner; Sullivan, Gorman, Rossiter, Powell; Salmon ©, Rice (Shannon 69), O’Connor, Mohamed; Simon; Shaw (O’Sullivan 11)
Unused substitutes: Hunt (GK), Tyrell, Mulhall, Dunne
Booked: Mohamed 73, Sullivan 92
Galway United (4-4-1-1): Winn; Horgan, Oji, Walsh, Ludden; Shanahan, Byrne, O’Leary, Connolly ©, Molloy (Garcia 55); Keegan
Unused substitutes: Hanley (GK), Cantwell, Cunningham, Curran, Sinnott, Raftery
Goalscorer: Keegan 61
Booked: Garcia 86
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford)
Official attendance: 601