League Report: Finn Harps 3 - 2 Longford Town

Finn Harps celebrate one of their three goals against Longford Town

Finn Harps celebrate one of their three goals against Longford Town Credit: Clare McCahill (ETPhotos)

Finn Harps edged a five-goal thriller in Ballybofey as Success Edogun’s emphatic late winner nudged them to victory over a spirited Longford Town.

In a fantastic first half, Darren Murphy’s Harps sped into a two-goal lead as Max Johnston’s close-range strike, his first this season, and a stunning long-range sizzler from skipper Tony McNamee sent the home faithful into delirium at Finn Park.

De Town, though, led by interim manager Wayne Groves, recovered admirably, equalising within the next twenty minutes. Forward Jordan Adeyemo coolly converted a penalty before Dean O’Shea’s emphatic header hauled them level.

But with only five minutes remaining, striker Edogun lashed home a pullback from substitute Sean O’Donnell to clinch a dramatic three points for The Harps.

Even before any goals, Longford should have led inside a minute. Conor Crowley floated a free kick deep into the box from halfway. Six yards out, an unmarked Francis Campbell could only wastefully nod wide.

That profligacy was instantly punished as Finn Harps went down the other end to open the scoring.

Defender Matty Makinson stepped up alertly to win the ball inside his own half. Makinson sprayed an expert diagonal out to the right wing where striker Success Edogun controlled with aplomb before driving down the flank.

After bamboozling Longford’s Luke Wade-Slater with some dazzling dribbling, Edogun’s sumptuous right-footed cross was gleefully finished off by Johnston’s fine diving header from inside the six-yard box. Johnston’s first in a Harps’ shirt, Harps’ fastest of this campaign sent Finn Park into frenetic delight.

With any dallying latecomers surely rueing the fast start, Longford threatened through Kyle O’Connor, impressing out wide, and Campbell, again, going close, this time toe-poking narrowly off-target.

For Harps, though, gold was indeed on the end of a rainbow as moments later, a sunlit stunner extended their advantage.

Central midfielder McNamee located the on-loan Luke O’Brien out right. Midway through the attacking half, his teasing ball into the box was headed away by O’Shea.

The ball dropped to McNamee, Harps’ top scorer this season, outside the area. Harps’ club captain watched the ball bounce before whacking an impeccably placed right-footed volley into the top corner from range. Longford goalkeeper Jack Brady, as Harps bathed in a moment of sunlight splendidness.

Eleven minutes later, though, and Longford were given a route back as referee Alan Patchell awarded the visitors a penalty after McNamee tussled with Wade-Slater inside the box.

After a slight delay, striker Adeyemo stuttered and spluttered up to the spot-kick before confidently sending the ball past Tim Heimer’s despairing dive into the left side-netting of the goal, a penalty peerlessly put away.

Brady performed heroics to prevent Harps from restoring their two-goal cushion. First, Patrick Ferry’s low fizzer was palmed out two-handed.

He then denied Noe Baba, up from the back, from the subsequent corner as McNamee’s dangerous, sweeping cross was bulleted towards goal by Baba’s firm effort, Brady brilliantly diving to his left to keep it out.

Longford took full advantage of Brady’s excellence by burying their next chance in an end-to-end first half.

Makinson hauled Campbell down wide right. Crowley’s curling in-swinger was only watched by dozing home defenders. That allowed O’Shea to steal in, the Longford man thundering his powerful header past Heimer’s grasp, into the bottom right corner.

De Town had the bit between their teeth approaching the break, Adeyemo’s effort just drifting wide as a shell-shocked Harps tried to regather their sure-footedness.

A cagier second half started with a couple of corners apiece. The most noteworthy event occurring from those being an Edogun appeal for a penalty, one that proved in vain as the officials denied the Harps’ pleas.

Next, O’Brien varied his delivery, hoicking a high, loopy cross into a congested six-yard zone. Brady, though, authoritatively plucked the ball from the skies, no longer hindered by a piercing sun, on its way to setting.

Despite Wade-Slater being pulled back by O’Brien, from a goal kick originated the next opportunity. Edogun flicking Heimer’s clearance on, aerially. Ferry scuttled into the edge of the area but blazed high when he could have passed to McNamee.

If the locals mumbled about that, they enjoyed Baba coming out on top in a fifty-fifty duel with the lively Adeyemo.

O’Connor then crucially blocked an Edogun effort before the former Finn Harps midfielder, Bastien Hery, entered the fray as a substitute, the Frenchman collecting a muted round of applause as he took to his old stomping ground.

Home substitute O’Donnell was then almost played through by a raking David Cawley pass, Brady bravely haring off his line to hoof the danger clear for Longford.

With the action more mirroring the sun, gently declining, a yellow card for old boy Hery was raucously received amongst the Donegal residents.

Then, though, out of nothing came a moment of magic for Finn Harps.

O’Brien pickpocketed O’Connor on halfway with Cawley calmly lobbing the loose ball up to McNamee. He drove purposefully through the attacking half, stabbing a pass wide right to O’Donnell.

The youngster used his speed to accelerate past Wade-Slater into the box. O’Donnell was then the most composed person inside Finn Park as he left the Longford man on the turf, cutting the ball back inside to the six-yard line, centrally.

There, waiting was Edogun. The former Treaty United forward rifled home a shot packed with punch as he chose an opportune moment to end his eleven-game scoring drought.

With little over five minutes remaining, Longford, who had retreated into their shells somewhat, were left reeling from the late sucker-punch, ultimately unable to recover from a brutal concession late on.

Successive home wins for Harps as they maintain their promotion push before facing second-placed UCD at the Belfield Bowl next Friday evening.

For Longford, a cruel ending to a promising week for De Town, who remain bottom. But after a recent first win of the season and gutsy performance tonight, they’ll be confident of moving up the table when they host struggling Treaty United at Bishopsgate in a week’s time.

For now, though, just like the recently arrived summer sunlight, Finn Harps are the ones left joyfully absorbing that sweet match-winning feeling.

Finn Harps: Tim Heimer; Jamie Watson, Matty Makinson, Noe Baba, Luke O’Brien, Ryan Rainey, David Cawley, Tony McNamee ©, Patrick Ferry (Sean O’Donnell 71), Success Edogun, Max Johnston.

Subs not used: Conor Walsh (gk), Conor Tourish, Shane McMonagle, Chris Lotefa, Stephen Doherty, Mark Mbuli, Darragh Coyle, Gavin McAteer.

Booked: Max Johnston (66).

Longford Town: Jack Brady; Shane Elworthy ©, Kyle O’Connor, Ross Fay, Dean O’Shea, Luke Wade-Slater, Viktor Serdeniuk, Mohammed Boudiaf (Bastien Hery 63), Conor Crowley, Francis Campbell, Jordan Adeyemo.

Subs not used: Jack McCarthy (gk), Oisin Hand, Samuel Clarke, Emmanuel James, Jordan Tellon, Vasyl Tropanets, Guilherme Rego Priosti, Callum Bonner.

Booked: Conor Crowley (67), Bastien Hery (76).

Referee: Alan Patchell.

Attendance: 839.

extratime.com Player of the Match: Success Edogun (Finn Harps).