Limerick FC 2- 2 Longford Town
SEAN Russell provided some much-needed happiness for his father Martin after his two goals secured Limerick FC their first league point of the season and lifted them off the bottom of the Premier Division.
Limerick twice had the lead at Jackman Park on Saturday evening, only for David O’Sullivan to respond for Longford Town on each occasion.
Both teams could have been nervy going into this game, with both seeking their first points of 2015, but the opening exchanges were lively and Limerick carved out a decent chance in the 10th minute, Dean Clarke switching it nicely to Ian Turner on the right, his cross headed straight at the opposition goalkeeper by Darragh Rainsford.
Longford went close on 17 minutes when Don Cowan had an easy passage into the Limerick penalty area from the right-hand side, his eventual shot meekly going wide.
After 20 minutes, Paul O’Conor ran at the Longford defence before crossing to Russell, who set himself before firing to the net from just outside the penalty box for Limerick’s first league goal of the season.
It was a lead that lasted a mere four minutes. Some neat inter-play by O’Sullivan and Kevin O’Connor led to a shot which Limerick keeper Conor O’Donnell could only flap at, the ball dropping kindly for O’Sullivan to bundle home from three yards.
Longford began to have the better of proceedings after the equaliser, but it was the home side who regained the lead five minutes before half-time. Clarke accelerated down the right flank and supplied Russell with the chance to shoot into the roof of the Longford net to make it 2-1.
Vinny Faherty was introduced for Rainsford at half-time and he soon had a sight of goal after more great work by the tireless Clarke, although Longford snuffed out the danger.
Limerick made the brighter start to the second half but again failed to hold on to their lead. Just before the hour mark, Cowan whipped in a cross which O’Sullivan headed home from close range for his second goal of the night.
Gary Shaw looked set to give Longford the lead soon after, but O’Donnell atoned for his earlier mistake by racing out sharply to deny the opposition striker.
The visitors were now in the ascendancy and slack Limerick defending allowed Conor Powell to cross into Shaw, who contrived to miss with a free header from four yards.
On 79 minutes, O’Connor was in acres of room to play an inviting cross to O’Sullivan, who glanced a header wide of the target to spurn the opportunity of completing a hat-trick.
There was one more opening for Longford when substitute Lorcan Shannon fizzed in a cross, but it was over-hit and Limerick held firm for a draw that their performance over the 90 minutes deserved.
Martin Russell stated afterwards that he was disappointed at not getting that first win of the season, but he also conceded that Limerick could easily have lost and, performance-wise, there was far more cohesion about the Super Blues than in their previous two games.
Limerick FC: O’Donnell; Harding, Price, O’Connor, Williams; Turner, Hughes, O’Conor, Russell; Rainsford (Faherty 46); Clarke.
Longford Town: Hunt; Mulhall, Sullivan, Powell, Flynn; Cowan (Shannon 76), Sammon, Rice, O’Connor; Shaw, O’Sullivan.
Referee: James McKell (Tipperary)