Soccer

Finn Harps' play-off hopes fading after Longford defeat admits Murphy

Finn Harps assistant manager Darren Murphy
Finn Harps assistant manager Darren Murphy Finn Harps assistant manager Darren Murphy

SSE Airtricity League Division One:  Finn Harps  0 Longford Town 1

Finn Harps flickering hopes of attaining a play-off spot in the SSE Airtricity League First Division are barely alive following yet another home defeat.

Their 1-0 loss against Longford Town leaves them in ninth spot and they are now nine points off fifth - the lowest of the play-off positions.

And with just eight games to play, only the wildest of optimists would wager now that the Donegal side can produce enough to somehow storm up the league ladder.

Speaking after Friday’s defeat, assistant manager Darren Murphy acknowledged that they have hit “a wobble” and added that there is “frustration” with the way some games have gone in which they really should have taken something from them.

He pointed out that at one stage they were 11 points off fifth but clawed it back to five. Now they have a challenge again, although the games are running out.

In fact, Harps could be heading for their lowest ever finish in the second tier.

And to add to their woes, Northern Ireland U19 international Daithi McCallion could be out for the rest of the season, having picked up a bad shoulder injury after he landed awkwardly during the game, and had to be taken to hospital.

Murphy acknowledged that they “had come out of the blocks very slow” and were perhaps fortunate to have only trailed 1-0 at the break.

He felt that they did improve in the second half but had been unable to create the chances they needed.

Harps went into this game on the back of two successive league defeats but buoyed by a 5-0 defeat of Leinster Senior League side Skerries Town.

Having taken seven points from nine in their three previous games this season against the midlanders, there were grounds for optimism.

Longford had the ball in the net from Shane Elworthy after just five minutes but it was ruled out for offside. 

The visitors took the lead with the in-form Cristian Magerusan scoring on 18 minutes - his sixth goal in the last four matches.

Tony McNamee went close to equalising for Harps on the hour, but on 64 minutes Harps were reduced to ten men when Matthew Makinson picked up a second yellow card.

Substitute Aaron McLaughlin and Ryan Flood had late chances for Harps but Longford held and there was no late gift in store for Harps manager Dave Rogers whose 48th birthday ended in disappointment.

Harps have managed to win just two out of 14 league games in Ballybofey this season, and have just four more league matches in front of the Finn Park faithful.

Next up for Harps is a trip to Wexford, the team who occupy fifth place. Defeat in this one would leave Harps 12 points off the lowest play-off position, and surely out of the promotion race.

Finn Harps: Kelly; McCallion (Farrar, 45+5), Makinson, Wara, Flood, Doherty, McNamee, Watson (McLaughlin, 76), Hutchison, Ferry (O’Donnell, 71), Banda (Porter, 66).

Longford Town: Brady, Elworthy, O’Brien-Whitmarsh (Giurgi, 65), Hand, Magerusan, Armstrong (Doona, 65), Temple, Wixted, Serdeniuk, O’Connor, O’Brien (Hery, 65).

Referee: R. Dowling.