Plenty at stake as Mervue host Longford Town

Buoyed by a fine away win in Ballybofey, Mervue United now face a season-defining encounter with Longford Town at Fahy's Field tomorrow.

Still only four points from a play-off berth, Mervue host the midlanders, who are heavily involved in the same race.

A Longford win would effectively terminate Mervue's chances of a top-three finish and leave the Galway outfit relying on favours from elsewhere, so there will be plenty at stake in this interesting contest.

Resourceful and resilient against Finn Harps, Mervue frustrated the locals with a disciplined display. Jason Molloy's fifth minute strike was a blow from which Harps could not recover.

Harps did try to find a way back into the reckoning, but Mervue, keen to make a positive away statement, remained defiant. A second goal was pocketed by the excellent Ryan Manning and Harps were outfoxed. That was a highly satisfactory conclusion for Mervue, who maintained their slim promotion prospects.

Three wins on the trot confirm the strides Mervue have made during this campaign, with Manning again underlining his considerable potential with an assured display. Tom King, Martin Conneely, Stephen Walshe, and Gary Curran were others to make valuable contributions for Mervue.

Their home record augurs well as Mervue have won seven of their 12 fixtures at Fahy's Field, while there has been a touch of the erratic about Longford on the road. Longford only won four of their 12 away matches, and ultimately that is the main reason why they now trail arch rivals Athlone Town by eight points.

Longford, who had an autumnal blip, responded by taking maximum points from their past two matches, including a splendid 7-2 triumph over Cobh Ramblers. The prolific David O'Sullivan was inevitably among the goals, while Daniel Purdy, the promising Rhys Gorman, Josh O'Hanlon, and Ryan Connolly, on loan from Sligo Rovers, also found the range.

Tony Cousins' squad has a nice blend of youth and experience with Chris Bennion, Noel Haverty, Corie Treacy, Keith Quinn, and Willo McDonagh all seasoned performers at this level. Mervue, though, are quietly confident of maintaining their recent form and it promises to be a lively affair with Longford also craving the spoils.

Another last placed finish looms for Salthill Devon, who were gutsy when losing to the first division standard bearers Athlone Town at Drom. It was Devon's sixth loss in a row, but they made life difficult for Roddy Collins' side now bound for the top flight. James Keane made several remarkable saves, but Garbhan Coughlan eventually rattled the Salthill net and Jumbo Brennan's boys just did not have the attacking depth to restore parity.

Still, Robbie Gaul, Alex Byrne, Craig Harding, and Oscar Sibanda can reflect with the utmost satisfaction on their efforts, while Mixie Harty's enduring relevance to the Salthill cause should not be underestimated. The veteran midfield produced a typically tigerish and honest 90 minutes for Salthill, who make the long trek to Cobh on Saturday for a 3pm kick-off. Fifty-two goals have been scored at St Colman's Park in the 12 league games at the venue, which suggests Cobh's collision with Salthill should be open and attractive.

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