A French defender struck twice as the Hoops got the better of Longford

Maxime Blanchard bagged a brace in a 3-2 win for Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

Hoops goalscorer Maxime Blanchard and Luke Byrne.
Hoops goalscorer Maxime Blanchard and Luke Byrne.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 3
Longford Town 2

MAXIME BLANCHARD SCORED two second half goals to earn Shamrock Rovers a 3-2 win over Longford Town at Tallaght Stadium.

The French defender got himself on the end of set-pieces from Kieran Marty Waters after Gavin Brennan had opened the scoring in the first half before Pat Flynn’s equaliser. A late goal from substitute Kaleem Simon made it a nervy finish, but the Hoops claim all three points.

The home side made one change from the team which played out a 0-0 draw with St Patrick’s Athletic last weekend as Danny North came in for Stephen McPhail to make his third league start of the season. That switch meant Pat Fenlon’s men set up in a 4-4-2 formation as North joined top scorer Mikey Drennan up front.

Longford captain Mark Salmon returned to their starting line-up with Jamie Mulhall dropping to the bench.

Ex-Ireland international Keith Fahey recorded the first shot on target after five minutes in but Paul Skinner was behind it all the way. Home fans didn’t have to wait long for the first goal, however, as Rovers went in front two minutes later.

Patient build-up saw Simon Madden play inside to Patrick Cregg and his neat through-ball allowed Brandon Miele the space to try his luck from just inside the box. Skinner made the block but Brennan was on-hand to stroke home the follow-up for his first goal of the season.

Longford, playing a 4-4-1-1 with Gary Shaw in behind David O’Sullivan, didn’t get into areas to threaten enough in the opening half hour. On one rare occasion, Ayman Ben Mohamed’s back-heel in the path of O’Sullivan opened up the opposing backline but his strike was blocked down.

When they did draw level on 32 minutes, it arrived via a set-piece. Salmon’s delivery found its way to Pat Flynn and, with Hyland stranded in no man’s land, the defender was free to head in against his former club.

Another ex-Hoop, midfielder Stephen Rice, came close moments later and Shaw then wasted a golden opportunity to put the away team in front before half-time. The striker nicked the ball as Blanchard dallied in possession and somehow missed the target with just the goalkeeper to beat.

Pat Flynn celebrates scoring their first goal of the game with Stephen Rice The Longford players congratulate goalscorer Pat Flynn. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

If Fenlon asked for a bit more urgency from his players during the half-time break, he will have been disappointed with how they restarted the match as Longford continued to frustrate them.

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As the half wore on however, Rovers began to find openings and Cregg, Fahey and Drennan all coming close.

Kieran Marty Waters was introduced on the hour-mark and it was from his deliveries that Rovers added a second and third. Blanchard got a toe to the winger’s corner on 67 minutes, before the same player headed in a Waters free-kick after he was left unmarked.

Longford, who were denied a decent penalty shout when Blanchard bundled over Shaw, pulled one back with seven minutes remaining through sub Simon but Rovers held out to win.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Craig Hyland, Simon Madden, Conor Kenna (c), Maxime Blanchard, Luke Byrne, Brandon Miele (Kieran Marty Waters 60′), Pat Cregg, Keith Fahey, Gavin Brennan, Danny North (Gary McCabe 76′), Michael Drennan (Gareth McCaffrey 90′).

LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Skinner, Pat Sullivan, Pat Flynn (William Tyrell 73′), Mark Rossiter (Jamie Mulhall 46′), Martin Deady, Mark Salmon, Stephen Rice, Kevin O’Connor, Ayman Ben Mohamed, David O’Sullivan (Kaleem Simon 67′), Gary Shaw.

Originally published at 21.50 on Friday

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Ben Blake

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