In front of a crowd of 2,100, the Airtricity First Division side gave Warren Joyce’s side a good work-out on a rainy night in the Irish midlands, with United’s defence forced on to the back foot in the second half after a sustained period of Longford pressure.
United took the lead on eight minutes when Mats Daehli ran onto a quick free-kick down the left before cutting across the retreating home captain Chris Deans, then shooting off-balance over Craig Hyland.
Longford almost equalised three minutes later, from a free-kick after their full-back Michael Lee had been tripped by Michele Fornasier down the left touchline. The United defence failed to clear Daniel Purdy’s low set-piece across the box, but Jonny Sutherland was able to divert Gary Shaw’s shot onto a post.
Midway through the first half, United were denied a second by a sprawling save from Hyland. Adnan Januzaj’s free-kick from 25 yards was mis-hit but went through the wall, and the goalkeeper was able to hack clear. Hyland then produced a far better save in the 27th minute from a Gladstony curling effort from the edge of the box, as United began to dominate after the Irish side’s bright start.
Joyce was forced into a 36th minute substitution when Charni Ekangamene suffered a knock, with Reece James coming on in his place. United may have let their concentration after the two-minute break for treatment for Ekangamene, as, moments after the restart, Sean McGinty lost Shaw on the edge of the box. However, the Longford striker’s snapshot floated just over the bar.