Kaleem Simon signs back as Town look to topple Shels

IMG_8832 (1)Longford Town vs Shelbourne Preview by Andrew Dempsey (@AndrewDempsey2) Shelbourne make the trip to face Longford Town in the SSE Airtricity League First Division at the City Calling Stadium (Kick-Off at 7.30pm). 

Shelbourne go into this game off the back of a late defeat to Cabinteely at Stradbrook, with Jack Watson grabbing a 92nd minute winner in the Dublin Derby. On the other hand, “De Town” enter this game fresh from a 2-1 victory over Wexford FC at Ferrycarrig Park. Sam Verdon popped up with a debut goal, while Tristan Noack Hofmann bagged his first ever LOI strike as the Midlanders left the South-East with all 3 points.

“The Red and Black” will have to make do without the services of Kealan Dillon who is serving a suspension following his dubious dismissal at Ferrycarrig Park. Likewise, “Shels” will have to operate without Mark Hughes who has been suspended after an accumulation of yellow cards.

In other team news, Adam O’Connor is a doubt for this game and will have his fitness monitored up until kick off. As for the hosts, new signing Kaleem Simon is available for instant selection having re-signed for the club after a disappointing spell with Shelbourne's Dublin rivals, Bohemians. Meanwhile, David O'Sullivan must wait for a chance to link back up with Simon as the clubs all-time leading goal scorer remains a couple of weeks away from fitness due to a groin issue, but apart from that there is a full squad to choose from for Neale Fenn.

Last time these sides met at the ''CCS'' , De Town ended a barren run of no home wins since October 2015 with a 3-1 win over their First Division rivals. Recently departed Enda Curran scored a brace after Longford went a goal down in the 3rd minute thanks to a Dayle Rooney goal. Captain Kevin O'Connor put the result beyond doubt in the 62nd minute to make it 3-1, and also ending that miserable home form.

To say the least, the previous encounter between the pair which occurred in Tolka Park was a feisty affair with no more than 2 “Shels” players receiving red cards. James O'Brien and David O'Leary were on the receiving of these dismissals that night.

This game will be a clash between two contrasting footballing styles. Owen Heary has so far favoured a more direct approach with his outfit, similar to most First Division clubs. Longford, under Neale Fenn have been praised for a greater emphasis being placed on passing and possession which is poles apart from “Shels” perceived philosophy, as a result, this will provide an intriguing matchup between the pair.

Currently, there is only one ex- Town player plying his trade for Shelbourne in the aforementioned Mark Hughes,  while there are some former Shels” players at Longford Town, with goalkeeper Jack Brady and midfielder Gavin Boyne being the individuals in question.

With the First Division appearing to be well and truly over following Waterfords big win over promotion rivals Cobh at the RSC last week, this game will have no bearing on those at the top of the table and will probably determine who will come out on top for mid-table supremacy.

Were Longford to win, they could close the gap on UCD or Cobh to just the five points, worst case scenario may see the Midlanders drop down to 6th, with upcoming opponents Shelbourne or Cabinteely leapfrogging “Town”.

In all of the recent clashes this season, “Town” are unbeaten against the Dublin outfit and arguably can view themselves as unlucky for failing to beat “Shels” on all occasions this season. Davy O'Sullivan missed a penalty at Tolka on the opening day of the season to deny Longford from taking all three points and in the other clash at the Drumcondra venue, the ball somehow stayed out of “The Reds” net as a 9 man Shelbourne held out for a 0-0 draw.

With Shelbourne recently suffering a disappointing late defeat to Cabinteely last week and Wexford the week previous, one could imagine that they will be keen to put it right in the CCS. On the other hand Longford have had an encouraging run of form at home recently winning 3 out of their 4 previous home games.

Prediction: Longford Town 2-0 Shelbourne