Seventh heaven for Longford as sorry Athlone capitulate

David O’Sullivan scored his third hat-trick of the season against Athlone Town as Longford Town thrashed their Midland rivals at City Calling Stadium last Saturday night, August 19.

The home striker scored three times in the first 13 minutes, as four further goals after half time saw Neale Fenn’s men equal their biggest ever win at senior level. Ryan Gaffey’s goal just after the break was mere consolation as Roddy Collins failed to make it two wins in a week after breaking his duck against Ballincollig in the FAI Cup.

A depleted Athlone team were quickly behind as O’Sullivan opened his goal account with just three minutes played. Jake Kelly picked out the home top scorer who swept the ball to the net past the goalkeeper’s left.

The Longford corner count reached an amazing 16 in total as the home dominance throughout showed in the stats. The lead was doubled on eight minutes when Kelly’s delivery from a corner was headed home by an on-fire O’Sullivan.

Daniel O’Reilly saw his header pushed over by Igor Labuts, but O’Sullivan then completed his rapid fire hat-trick after 13 minutes. This time the away defence parted as a long ball was played forward, allowing O’Sullivan to race clear and finish with a low strike.

Gaffey had the first away chance on 21 minutes but fired over from long range. Kelly and Sam Verdon both fired wide for Longford as the half progressed, but Athlone made it to half time without conceding again. The game though was over as a contest by this stage.

In spite of being outplayed for the first half, the visitors pulled a goal back two minutes after the restart. A strike from Gaffey on the edge of the penalty area took a slight deflection to wrong-foot goalkeeper Jack Brady, who remained rooted to his line as the ball entered the net.

Conor Layng then fired wide for Athlone, but Longford quickly restored their three-goal advantage on the hour mark. O’Reilly made up for his earlier miss to connect with Kelly’s corner at the far post and head into the net.

Midway through the half, Dragos Sfrijan cleared a Don Cowan shot off the goal line, but Fenn’s men made it five after 76 minutes. O’Sullivan’s initial shot was blocked, but Karl Chambers was following up to fire a low shot past Labuts.

Goal number six was worth waiting for as substitute Kealan Dillon further punished his former club with a superb volley from long range. An embarrassing night for Athlone was completed seven minutes from the end with a seventh goal conceded. Tristan Noack-Hofmann sent in low cross from the left which picked out Chambers, who pounced for his second goal of the game.

Substitute Dan Beya and Cowan both had chances to inflict further damage before the end as the final whistle sounded to put Athlone out of their misery.

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