A busy weekend of FAI Cup action coming up in Ireland. Dylan O’Neill (@dylanoneill_95) has found a Friday night fancy to get things up an running.
Waterford v Longford | Friday 19:45
This game seems to be guaranteed goals with both sides’ defences being very leaky this season (also taken BTTS as a small interest because of this).
For Waterford, they’re averaging 2.55 goals against per game and surprisingly they’ve also conceded the most in the league (28). This has been in part due to Waterford manager Roddy Collins’ bizarre rotational system in playing players out of position – one example of this is midfielder and captain David O’Leary playing at left-back away to Shelbourne recently (which resulted in a 4-1 win for Shels).
I read some tweets from Waterford fans and they were exasperated by this decision from Collins and that such an “important player” like midfielder Darren Murphy started that game on the bench.
O’Leary has also been key to Waterford’s limited success this season. To signify how important he is we only have to look at Waterford’s 7-0 defeat to Cork earlier this season as he left at HT at 0-0, along with another key player in Anthony McAlavey – who won Waterford Supporters Player of the Month for March – which resulted in seven Cork goals in less than thirty second-half minutes.
When Waterford have played the other sides I’d have competing for promotion – i.e Limerick, Drogheda, UCD & Shelbourne – they’ve shipped twenty-two goals in seven games – an average of over three a game and Longford should definitely be adding to this list.
Moving on to Longford now. They have struggled for form in the Premier Division this year due to horrible luck with injuries in pretty much every department with injuries to key players in defence (stand-in captain Noel Haverty and defenders Rossiter, Flynn, Gorman and Powell have all spent time on the sidelines).
On top of this they’ve been desperately unlucky elsewhere with captain and midfielder Mark Salmon missing quite a few games as well as Longford having had striker Lee Duffy (top goalscorer for relegated Drogheda last year with seven in 26) injured in pre-season up until a few weeks ago, among others.
Now, having had most of those injuries rehabilitated Longford have been looking to finally kick on and start climbing the league ladder. In recent weeks, though their defence still needs shoring up, they’ve improved on the scoring front, knocking two past a shaky Wexford Youths, another two past an impressive Galway side and then three past what is normally a very sound St. Patrick’s defence.
Longford will be without their 1st choice goalkeeper for at least another week through injury so 19-year-old Molloy continues to deputise. Molloy has no previous experience at League of Ireland and has been very error prone in the three games he’s played so far, conceding seven goals in his two starts.
I watched the highlights from Longford’s 4-2 defeat to Wexford Youths and 3-3 draw with St Patrick’s Athletic and I noticed Molloy and the Longford defence are desperately poor in defending balls into the box, conceding five of these seven goals from crosses into the box and Molloy was at fault for at least two to three goals so confidence isn’t going to be high for him going into this.
I watched the first half of Longford vs St Pats and Kaleem Simon looked very lively up front for Longford though it should be said that Longford’s goals were helped by some poor goalkeeping from Pats. Granted, these errors don’t matter too much considering Waterford’s defending has been so leaky that they’ve kept just one clean sheet in eleven games and Longford are guaranteed at least 1-2 tonight.
I also watched Waterford at home to Shelbourne a few weeks ago (a 4-1 win to Shels) and I was amazed at how often Shels looked like they were going to score going forward and they could’ve easily had another two or three as they had a disallowed offside goal and midfielder Cian Kavanagh hit the post from range in the 2nd half.
With both defences a big liability I think Longford should be capitalising, especially with captain Mark Salmon, Lee Duffy and a host of others now back to full fitness a big bonus.