Galway United end their regular season in dramatic fashion as a late equaliser from Rob Manley completed a second-half comeback for the Tribesmen as they drew 3-3 against Longford Town.
This match was to be a precurser to the League of Ireland First Division play-off, with these two sides meeting next Wednesday and Sunday in a two-legged affair to see who gets a chance to get promoted to the Premier Division.
Therefore both managers named weakened sides, with Galway manager John Caulfield making nine changes from their draw away against Wexford FC last week.
The wet conditions matched the early gloom for Galway United as Longford winger Darren Clarke gave the visitors the lead. Clarke turned Galway left back Adam Thomas inside out before drilling the ball past keeper Conor Kearns to give Town the 1-0 lead.
Galway were having a rough start up to that point. They couldn’t create any clear cut chances and Rob Manley and Manu Dimas had next to no service up front. There was a weak penalty shout for Galway as winger Wilson Waweru went down but the ref wasn’t buying it.
However an equaliser would come for United. A corner from Mikie Rowe found the head of Evan O’Connor to make it 1-1 against the run of play.
Longford still managed to cause trouble as the like of Clarke, Kian Corbally and Cristian Magerusan caused trouble time and time again for the Galway defenders. Two of the three would link up for Longford’s second goal. Corbally slipped a delightful ball through the Galway defence into Magerusan. The Romanian striker had his shot saved by Kearns but the rebound fell to Matthew O’Brien and Longford were back in the lead.
It would only get worst for Galway as on the stroke of halftime they would go two goals down. A corner found the head of Magerusan and the header slipped through Kearns’ hands and into the net. With the last kick of the half Longford went into half-time 3-1 up.
Caulfield had a lot of work on his hand at halftime as Galway looked very dull going forward. They struggled to get past the Longford defence and they weren’t providing any service to Rob Manley.
Servicing Manley was the first thing Galway United did as they came out for the second half. A nice run and cross by Ronan Manning on the left wing met the head of Manley. The ball went past Colm Cox in the Longford goal and it was 3-2 within moments of the second half.
It was a much more positive half for the Tribesmen. They kept applying the pressure onto the visitors but still couldn’t create clear cut chances. A couple of free kicks troubled Cox but were no help for Galway as they were running out of time.
Ronan Manning in particular was working hard trying to create chances. The winger had more of a free role as he drifted in-field from his left flank. Time and time again he was able to dribble past Longford defenders but there was no final ball.
A goal 10 minutes from time completed the comeback. A cross from right back and scorer of the first goal Evan O’Connor found Rob Manley. The striker once again headed the ball past Colm Cox and Galway were tied 3-3.
That wasn’t the end of Galway’s chances as a late onslaught could’ve seen Galway score a winner. Several saves and a goal line clearance kept the Tribesmen out and the match finished in an entertaining 3-3 draw.
These two now go on to meet each other again on Wednesday, 26 October in the first leg of their play-off tie. The first leg will be in Longford before the return leg back in Terryland on Sunday, 30 October.
Galway United: Kearns, Lyons, Portilla, Rowe, Dimas (Neary 68′), Hurley (c) (Healy 68′), Waweru (O’Halloran 90′), Lomboto (R Manning 39′), O’Connor, Manley, Thomas (McCullough 68′)
Longford Town:Cox, Clarke (S Verdon 62′), McCann (Hanratty 5′), Corbally, Magerusan, O’Brien, Chambers (c) (Elworthy 62′), Power (Mills 62′), Dunne, A. Verdon, Lynch (Barnett 80′)
For more Galway Sports news, click here.