PREVIEW: Longford Town V UCD AFC

Longford Town vs UCD Preview by @AndrewDempsey2 Longford Town welcome 3rd placed UCD to the CCS in the Red and Blacks penultimate home game of the 2017 First Division season. Kick-off is at the usual time of 7.30pm at the Strokestown Road venue on Saturday Evening.

UCD head into this game on the back of having no game last week as the FAI Cup Quarter-Finals took centre stage, with Cork City, Dundalk, Limerick and Shamrock Rovers all progressing through to the Semi-Finals of the historic cup competition. In the Students previous competitive game, they were one goal victors over Wexford FC at the UCD Bowl. As for Neale Fenn’s men, the Red and Black will look to put last week’s FAI Cup defeat to Cork City behind them, hoping to heap the pressure on “College” in 3rd place as a vastly improved showing has seen De Town creep up the First Division table up to 4th place, overtaking Cabinteely in their last league game.

Apart from third place being on the line in this clash, there isn’t much else to play for both sides which is a direct result of the FAIs radical restructuring plans of the League of Ireland. This is a shame as third place could have secured a playoff spot for both sides, which in turn may have brought a strong crowd out to the CCS for a potential humdinger of a tie. For the neutral observer at least, the game could be a very exciting contest as both sides both like to play a very expansive brand of football, with possession being key for both outfits.

Also, last time the pair met, Town were very unlucky not to leave Dublin with all three points as the midlands club wasting a plethora of chances in a very entertaining 0-0 stalemate.

Since Fenn’s arrival to the midlands, there has generally been no shortage of goals on display, both for and against, with a total of 33 goals hitting the back of the net in 11 games. For any of you interested in average goals per game, that’s 3 goals per game. Longford’s last home league victory came over local rivals Athlone Town with a 7-1 drubbing of their midlands neighbours. On the other hand, UCDs last victory away was in Athlone as they swatted aside the challenge of the now basement club with a 2-0 victory.

In team news for “De Town”, captain and influential leader Kevin O’Connor remains unavailable with an injury. Goalkeeper Paul Skinner is expected to be back in contention after suffering with an injury in recent weeks but of course the former Shelbourne keeper now looks firmly set as Longford's number two due to Jack Brady's incredible form. Both Collie O’Neill and Neale Fenn will have the luxury of having to deal with no players on the suspension list.

As far as a prediction goes, I would have to give the nod to Longford Town in this clash as UCD have had a fairly poor run recently away from home. With their last win coming away in May, you would have to think that they may be suffering from a lack of confidence away from the UCD Bowl.

PREDICTION: Longford Town 2-1 UCD - You can also listen to our preview of all the other clashes in both the First and Premier Division on our Podcast that is available on iTunes, Audioboom and Mixcloud . Also making an appearance on the show was Longford Town Goalkeeper Jack Brady, Dundalk defender Brian Gartland and Cobh’s Paul Hunt alongside Waterford FC and Republic of Ireland fan interviews.