Molloy Cracker Sinks Longford in First Leg
Mervue Utd 1-0 Longford Town
By Jason Byrne
Mervue Utd hold the edge in their First Division Play-off clash with Longford Town as Jason Molloy's first half beauty was enough to sink Tony Cousins' ten men at Fahy's Field on Friday night.
Mervue dominated the opening half and had their first chance on six minutes when Corie Tracey's cheap giveaway saw Gary Shanahan break loose and he clipped the crossbar.
Four minutes later Michael Duffy spurned a glorious chance for the hosts when a classy ball from Ryan Mannning left him with just Chris Bennion to beat, but his low shot was saved by the Longford stopper.
Shortly afterwards Johnny Glynn's men hit the front when Barry O'Mahoney fed Molloy and he beautifully let fly from almost thirty yards into the top corner.
Longford created little until this point before Ryan Connolly finally found space and his shot was somehow tipped by Conor O'Malley onto the crossbar and Mervue frantically cleared.
The visitors were then reduced to ten men when skipper Tracey was shown a straight red for his crunching tackle on Duffy, as the hosts saw out the half enjoying the bulk of the ball.
After the restart however Longford improved and Noel Haverty went close at the back post following Ryan Connolly's cross, before David O'Sullivan was unlucky not to beat O'Malley after beating two defenders.
But Mervue soaked up the pressure well and continued to press for a second as Shananan headed over and Duffy was again denied by Shanahan before being replaced by Brendan Lavelle.
At the other end O'Sullivan saw another low drive hit the side netting before Ryan Manning came closest to making it 2-0 - shooting from Marc Ludden's cross only to see Glen O'Connor clear off the line.
Late on Lavelle became the latest to force a fine save from Bennion as Longford almost snatched a draw in stoppage time when Gary Shaw headed Connolly's free-kick off the bar.
Mervue created a late injury time chance also as Manning did well in the box before setting up Gary Curran who fired straight at Bennion but Molloy's early wonder strike was enough for a seventh win in a row and a slender advantage to bring to the City Calling Stadium for the second leg next Friday night.
MERVUE UNITED: C O'Malley; T King, S Walsh, P Sinnott, M Ludden; G Shanahan, G Curran, B O'Mahony, J Molloy (J Woods 83); M Duffy (B Lavelle 66), R Manning.
LONGFORD TOWN: C Bennion; N Haverty, C Deans, D Hope, C Tracey; D Purdy (G Doyle 77), R Connolly, K Quinn, D O'Brien (G O'Connor 46); G Shaw, D O'Sullivan (J O'Hanlon 81).
REFEREE: Keith Callanan (Cork)