TONY COUSINS WILL summon Longford’s Mervue miracle to keep his players focused in the First Division play-off second leg.
Goals from Peter White and Craig Burns gave Waterford United a 2-0 win when the sides met in Flancare Park last Friday night, leaving the Blues on the brink of a winner-take-all promotion showdown against Dundalk.
Cousins knows it is vital that his players don’t panic and chase tonight’s game, exposing themselves to a third Waterford goal which would kill off their chances.
Town were involved in a remarkable comeback once already this season. In June, they went in at half-time 4-1 down to Mervue United before they blitzed the hosts and escaped with an incredible 5-4 win.
Cousins says that memory should give his players the confidence they need.
“You’ve got to be patient,” he tells TheScore.ie. “I don’t want to see both full-backs raiding in the first five minutes and leaving us open at the back.
Teams have been down 2-0 before. We were 4-1 down to Mervue at half-time this year and we came back and beat them 5-4. That was 45 minutes; we have 90 and if you get a goal just before half-time, then you’re in the dressing room saying we have a great chance.
There’s no real panic in not scoring in the first five or ten minutes. The most important thing is that we don’t concede and we’ve got to make sure that we’re nice and tight.
Friday night’s defeat was Longford’s fifth successive reversal, but despite their poor form, both Cousins and the players feel that they can salvage their promotion dream.
“We’re very positive at the end of the day. We feel that if we can go and get the first goal, it’s game on, that we’re quite capable of turning the tie around. That’s what we’ve looked at all week.
“Everybody’s really looking forward to the game and there’s no negativity. The lads know, and they really feel that if we can score the first goal, we can turn the tie.”
Defender Noel Haverty and Keith Gillespie, formerly of Manchester United but now an important cog in Longford’s midfield engine room, were named this week in the PFAI First Division Team of the Year.
“It was fantastic,” Cousins says. “It’s always nice for your players to get picked and it’s a compliment to the other players as well because they stand out, but the other players help them stand out.”